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Lokd Kims. 

Physiognomy, whether understood in its most extensive or confined signifi- 
cation, is the origin of all human decisions, efforts, actions, expectations, fears, 
and hopes ; of all pleasing and unpleasing sensations, which are occasioned hy 
external objects, nor is there a man to be found who is not daily influenced by 
Physiognomy; not a man who has not figured to himself a countenance 
exceedingly lovely, or exceedingly hateful ; not a man who does not, more or 
less, the first time he encounters a stranger, observe, estimate, compare and 
judge him, according to appearances, although he might hitherto have been a 
stranger to the science of Physiognomy ; it is, therefore, a manifest truth, 
that whether or not sensible of it, all men are daily influenced by Physio- 
gnomy . and as Sultzer has affirmed, every man, consciously or unconsciously, 
understands something of Physiognomy. The most simple and inanimate 
object has its characteristic exterior, by which it is not only distinguished as a 
species, but individually ; and shall the first, noblest, best harmonized, and 
most beauteous of beings, be denied all characteristic ? 

But, whatever may be opposed to the truth and certainty of the science of 
Physiognomy, it must be admitted that there is no object, thus considered, 
more important, more worthy of observation, more interesting than man, nor 
any occupation superior to that of disclosing the beauties and perfections of 
human nature. 

We do not consider any apology needful for the republication of a work so 
highly appreciated as Lavater's Essays on Physiognomy. Several English 
and French translations have already appeared ; and although large editions 
in both languages were sold, it is more than probable the sale was considerably 
limited on account of the high prices at which each of them were published. 
In sending forth a new edition, it has been our aim to combine uniformity, 
economy and portability ; how far we may have succeeded in this respect, we 
leave a discerning Public to determine. Drawings have necessarily been made 
from the Outline Portraits and other Engravings, reducing the size, so as to 
represent in Eighty Plates the same number of subjects that were formerly 
given in three hundred and sixty. At the same time, great care has been 
taken to preserve the spirit and identity of the countenances which were 
selected by the Author as peculiarly adapted to illustrate the Science of 
Physiognomy, rendering it at once a book of utility, amusement, and instruc- 
tion, suited to the man of intellect, study, and taste. 


The revision, which will be found at the con- 
clusion of the work, relates to this particular 
edition of the Physiognomical Fragments of 
Mr. Lavater, which was published under the 
inspection of his friend, John Michael Arm- 
bruster, in octavo, for the benefit of those who 
could not afford to purchase the quarto edition. 
The editor, Armbruster, has changed the order 
of the fragments, and has omitted some few 
superfluous passages. The friend was more 
capable of perceiving where the author had re- 
peated than was Mr. Lavater. Having taken 
something away, the editor added something 
new ; so that this is, perhaps, the work which 
best deserves preference. We have the most 
irrefragable evidence, from the revision above- 
mentioned, that Mr. Lavater perfectly approved 
of the plan of his friend, Mr. Armbruster, 


w hose additions he has himseli corrected and 

With respect to the translation, those who 
know the original will also know the difficulties 
which almost every period presented. The 
German is a language abounding in compound 
words, and epithets linked in endless chains. 
Eager to excel, its writers think they never can 
hav & e said enough, while any thing more can be 
said: their energy is frequently unbridled, and 
certainly, in the exalted quality of energy, Mr. 
Lavater will cede to few of his countrymen. 
He wished for the language and the pen of 
angels, to write on his favourite subject. Bold 
endeavours have been made to preserve the 
spirit of his reasoning, the enthusiasm of his 
feelings, and the sublimity of his conceptions. 
But, without any affected distrust of myself, I 
cannot venture to affirm they are preserved. 




The present edition has been carefully revised, 
compared with the original, and corrected. A 
valuable addition, it is presumed, has been made 
to it, in the translation of the One Hundred 
Physiognomical Rules, which compose the fifth 
volume of the Posthumous Works of Lavater, 
published by his son-in-law, Mr. G. Gessner. 

The Memoirs of the Life of the Author, pre- 
fixed to this edition, are principally compiled 
from the Life of Lavater, by G. Gessner, who 
appears to have exhibited him, as he frequently, 
in the course of his work, professes to be his 
object, without either exaggerating his great 
merits and endowments, or diminishing his 
foibles and defects. 


In addition to what has been said in the pre- 
ceding" advertisement on the merit of this work, 
compared with the very expensive edition in 
quarto, we now have the testimony of Mr. 
Gessner, whose authority certainly must have 
great weight, decidedly in its favour. He tells us 
(see the following Memoirs, page lxxxix.), that 
"in 1783, Mr. Armbruster, at the instance of 
Mr. Lavater, prepared and published an octavo 
edition of the great work on Physiognomy, re- 
duced to a smaller form, but with respect to 
whatever is essential, a complete and perfect 
work. This edition Mr. Lavater very carefully 
revised, and it was his avowed opinion that this 
work, which is sold for nearly the tenth part of 
the price of the large edition, contains com- 
pletely all that is essential in the baiter. " 


Life of Lavater ..... 

Introduction ...... 

A word concerning the author . 

On the nature of man, which is the foundation of the science of 
physiognomy ..... 

Physiognomy, pathognomy .... 

Of the truth of physiognomy .... 

Reasons why the science of physiognomy i8 so often ridiculed and 
treated with contempt .... 

Testimonies in favour of physiognomy 

Solomon .... 

Jesus, son of Sirach 

Sultzer .... 

Wolf .... 

Geilert .... 

Herder .... 
Of the universality of physiognornonical sensation 

Physiognomy a science 
Of the advantages of physiognomy 
Of the disadvantages of physiognomy 
Of the ease of studying physiognomy 
Of the difficulties of physiognomy . 
Of the rarity of the spirit of physiognornonical observation 

Additions .... 
The physiognomist .... 
Of the apparently false decisions of physiognomy 






Of the general objections made to physiognomy . . 73 

Various objections to physiognomy answered . . 78 

On dissimulation, falsehood, and sincerity . . 83 

On freedom and necessity ... 90 

Additions ..... 93 

On the harmony of moral and corporeal beauty .95 

Additions ... ,110 

Socrates . . 113 

Additions . . . .122 

Miscellaneous physiognomonical exercises . . .123 

Of the union between the knowledge of the heart and philanthropy 129 
Of the universal excellence of the form of man . . 132 

On the study of physiognomy, addressed to Count Thun, of Vienna, 

First Letter . . . . .136 

On ditto; Second Letter to Count Thun . . . 156 

Addition — List of remarkable countenances . . .168 

On portrait painting . . . . .170 

Additions . . . . . .176 

Of the congeniality of the human form . . 179 

Additions ...... 185 

On shades ...... 187 

Of the great significance of shades . . . .190 

Additions . . . .195 

Of beasts . . . . 204 

Introduction . . . . . ib. 

General reflections .... 205 

Extracts from Aristotle concerning beasts . . 206 

Resemblances between the countenances of men and beasts . 207 
Additions . . . . . 208 

On the skulls of beasts .... 209 

Additions . . . . .210 

On the difference of the characters of animals . .211 

Thoughts of a friend on brutal and human physiognomy . 212 

Observations on some animals . . . .214 

Additions : — 

Animal characteristics . . . . 216 

Lions . . . m „ .217 

Elephant, crocodile, and hippopotamus . . . j&. 

The horse ..... 218 




Six heads of horses . . . 221 

Birds . . . . . . .223 

Fish ...... 225 

Insects . . . . . . ib. 

Serpents ...... 226 

A word on monkeys ..... 227 

Additions ..... 229 

Skulls of monkeys ..... 230 

On skulls ...... 233 

Suggestions to the physiognomist concerning the skull . 236 

Objection and answer .... 237 

Further reply . . . . .238 

Of the difference of skulls as they relate to sex, and particularly to 
nations ..... 

Additions .... 

Remarks ..... 

Of the skulls of children . » . 

Additions ..... 

Essay by a late learned man of Oldenburg (M. Sturtz) on physi- 
ognomy, interspersed with short remarks by the author 
Quotations from Huart .... 

Remarks on an Essay upon Physiognomy by Professor Lichtenberg 266 
Extracts from authors, with remarks . . . 293 

Some physiognomonical extracts from an essay inserted in 
the Deutschen Museum .... 

Extracts from Maximus Tyrius 

Extracts from a manuscript by Th — 

Extracts from Nicolai .... 

Extracts from Winkelmann .... 

Miscellaneous quotations 

Passages or miscellaneous physiognomonical thoughts from Holy 
Writ, with a short introduction .... 

Miscellaneous extracts from Kaempf's Essay on the Tempera- 
ments, with remarks .... 

Physiognomonical anecdotes .... 

Concerning temperaments 
Signs of bodily strength and weakness 
Medicinal semeiotics, or the signs of health and sickness 
National physiognomy ..... 
My own remarks . 










Extracts from other authors 


Professor Kant 


M. de Paux 



Man of Literature at Darmstadt 

Physiognomy of towns and places 

Conclusion of national physiognomy 
Resemblance between parents and children 

General remarks 

Remarks on the opinions of Buffon, Haller, and Bonnet, concern 
ing the resemblance between parents and children 

Extracts from Bonnet 
Observations on the new-born, the dying, and the dead 
Of the influence ofVountenance on countenance 
On the influence of the imagination on the countenance 
The effects of the imagination on the human form . 
On certain individual parts of the human body 

The forehead 

The eyes 

The eyebrows 

The nose 

The mouth and lips 


Male and female 

A word on the physiognomonical relation of the sexes 
Of the physiognomy of youth . 
A word to travellers 
A word to princes and judges 

A word to the clergy . ' ■■ 

Miscellaneous countenances 
Physiognomonical denominations of 
Miscellaneous thoughts 


On the hair 

countenances elucidated 




. 350 

. 353 

. 361 




Additions on the temperaments 


third chapter, on bodily strength and weakness 


national physiognomy 


Swiss and Zurich countenances 


Citizens of Zurich .... 


Georgian Bashkir . . ... 


Additions to pages 361 to 379 — Mother marks, &c. 


Mother marks ..... 


Additions, illustrative of pages 379 to 396 — Foreheads . 


On the eyes ... 


Outlines of eyes after Le Brun 


Additions to the nose, mouth, and chin 


'11 4- *■' f onfi 4. Ar\t\ r\ 

illustrative oi pages oyo to 4UU — un women . 


One Hundred Physiognomonical Rules 


General rules ..... 


Forehead ..... 


Wrinkles of the forehead 


Eyes ....... 


Eyebrows ...... 


Nose ....... 


Lineaments of the cheeks .... 


Mouth ...... 


Chin ...... 


Forehead and mouth . 


Stupidity ...... 


Folly ....... 


Variable character ..... 


Sophists and knaves ..... 


Obstinacy ...... 


Women ...... 


Warts . • . , , . 


Worthless insignificance ..... 


Caution ...... 


Hypocrisy and irresolution .... 


The smile ...... 


Persons to be avoided ..... 


Ambiguous characters .... 


Thinkers . .... 




Voluptuaries ; 48 ° 

Harsh characters . . . . .to. 

Characters to he avoided . > . .487 

Caution . . . . . .489 

Discordant characters , . ib. 

To be avoided . . . , . ib. 

Manly character . , . 490 

To be avoided . , ib. 

Conclusion ...... 491 

On the Lines of Animality , . . 493 



The Binder is requested to place the Plates as nearly as possible to cor- 
respond with the description : if reference is given to more than one 
Plate on the same page, let them follow in numerical order. 

*** To avoid injuring the Plates, cut very little from the margin. 

Portrait of the Author 

to face Title- 
Plate I. 







VIII. . 




XII. . 


XIV. . 


XVI. . 




XX. . 


XXII. . 


XXIV. . 


XXVI. . 




XXX. . 












Plate XLI. . . 243 


XLII. . 





XLIV. . 



XLVI. . 















LII. . 

. 276 
. 331 


LIV. . 



LVI. . 




. 426 





LX. . 
LXII. . 






LXIV. . 






LXVI. . 












LXX. . 


























John Caspar Lavater was the son of Henry 
Lavater, Doctor of Medicine, and Member of the 
Government of Zurich; the maiden name of his 
mother was Regula Escher. 

In a manuscript, containing notices and reflections 
on the incidents of the earlier years of the life of 
Lavater, written by himself, and found among his 
papers, by his son-in-law, G. Gessner, he characterises 
his father as " a man of universally acknowledged 
integrity, of a naturally good and sound understand- 
ing, but neither distinguished for learning nor great 
penetration ; neither a genius, nor a man of philoso- 
phical inquiry ; an example of industry and unwearied 
application ; attentive and successful in his profes- 
sion ; an excellent economist; in every thing extremely 
orderly and regular ; the best of husbands, and the 
tenderest of fathers." 

His mother, he tells us, possessed an extraordinary 
understanding, an astonishing power of imagination, 
and an insatiable curiosity after novelty and know- 
ledge, which extended at once to the smallest and the 



greatest objects, though the latter afforded her most 
satisfaction. Her invention was inexhaustible; she 
had a projecting mind, and was active and indefati- 
gable in carrying into execution what she had planned. 
She esteemed and reverenced whatever was noble, 
great, and intelligent ; and had derived every advan- 
tage that rcnld be expected from her conversation 
with pious and learned men. She had read the books 
they recommended to her perusal, though she did not 
pretend to be, nor was she, a learned woman. She 
was an excellent manager, and her industry was par- 
ticularly useful to her husband, to whom she acted 
as an apothecary, being frequently employed from 
morning till night in making up the medicines he 
prescribed. She was a faithful and affectionate wife, 
and a tender mother. 

Our author was her twelfth child, and born on the 
14th of November, 1741. In infancy he was of a 
weakly and delicate conformation of body, and it was 
not expected that he would prove healthy, or, perhaps, 
long-lived. Of his disposition in his very early years, 
he says himself, — " All the accounts that have been 
given me of my character in early youth agree in this, 
that I was very mild, quiet, and good-tempered, and, 
at the same time, ardent, and occasionally violent ; 
very hasty and very timid ; of a sensibility extremely 
delicate ; nothing less than apt to learning ; very 
inattentive, changeful, impatient, pettish, thoughtless, 
and simple. The slightest tendency to wit or plea- 
santry was never discovered in me ; I uttered no bon 
mot that could be repeated, as the little jokes of my 


brothers and sisters frequently were." — " I recollect," 
he adds, " how much I suffered at this early period of 
my life from timidity and bashfulness. Curiosity 
continually impelled me, while fear restrained me ; 
yet I observed and felt, though I could never commu- 
nicate my feelings and observations; or if I attempted 
to make such a communication, the manner in which I 
did it was so absurd, and drew on me so much ridicule, 
that I soon found myself incapable of uttering another 

In the German school, to which young Caspar was 
sent to learn to read, he had the fortune to meet with 
a master who had the good sense, frequently not found 
in seminaries of a far higher class, to treat him in a 
manner suitable to the peculiarity of his disposition, 
with the utmost mildness and patience, notwithstand- 
ing his awkwardness, heedlessness, and inaptitude to 
learn. He conceived a real affection for him; and 
continually assured his parents that he should be able 
to make something of little Caspar still. His pro- 
gress, however, in reading, writing, and learning little 
pieces by memory was extremely slow; and his mother 
frequently felt not a little anxiety on account of his 
inattention and indocility. 

At the end of his sixth year young Lavater entered 
the Latin school, and from about this time his mental 
powers appear gradually to have expanded, though 
his progress in his studies, according to his own 
account, was by no means very distinguished. A 
sense of religion dawned in his heart, and the germ 
of that enthusiastic ardour, which distinguished him 


through life, began to expand. His imagination, he 
tells us, was continually at work to conceive and plan 
what might appear uncommon and extraordinary. 
Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to see objects 
of any kind unusually large. " Every building," says 
he, " appeared to me too small, every tower too low, 
every animal too diminutive. When 1 saw, or heard 
speak of a high tower, my heart palpitated with a 
kind of rapture, and my greatest delight, notwith- 
standing my natural timidity, was to ascend such lofty 
edifices, and looking down from them, see every thing 
below me little, while what was near me alone was 
great. This love of seeing high towers has almost 
become in me a passion. In my journeys, even in the 
latter years of my life, I have found myself as it were 
impelled by a kind of irresistible necessity, to ascend 
the towers of Strasburg, Augsburg, St. Ulric, and that, 
which is still higher than these, at Landshut." 

Some other peculiar traits of his character in his 
childhood he gives us in the following words — " My 
indefatigably inventive imagination was very fre- 
quently occupied with two singular subjects — with 
framing of plans for impenetrable prisons — and the 
idea of becoming the chief of a troop of banditti. In 
the latter case, however, it is to be understood that 
not the least tincture of cruelty or violence entered 
mto my thoughts. I meant neither to murder nor 
distress any person ; my timid and good heart shud- 
dered at such an idea ; but to steal with ingenious 
artifice, and then bestow the stolen property, with 
Similar adroitness and privacy, on another who mioht 


want it more, only retaining so much of it as might be 
sufficient for my support ; to do no serious injury, but 
to produce extraordinary changes and visible effects, 
while I myself remained invisible, was one of my 
favourite conceptions, on which my industrious fancy 
was frequently for whole hours together most ridicu- 
lously employed. 

" However cruel my imagination might appear on 
these occasions, my heart was never so. My timidity 
was still the same. I had the same abhorrence of 
injury done to another, and the same compassion for 
the sufferer which I have always felt. But my ima- 
gination, my fond admiration of ingenious artifices, 
led me to these monstrous fancies. For a considerable 
time I read nothing but accounts of banditti, their 
chiefs, and artful exploits. Their acts of cruelty and 
violence I abhorred, but I laughed aloud when they 
dexterously played any wily trick. But though my 
mind has sometimes been employed by the hour toge- 
ther in contriving how I might take, without discovery, 
things that offered themselves, I never did it, that I 
recollect, except twice, when I took some sugar 
plumbs which my father used to carry in his pocket to 
give to the children of the patients he visited, and as 
there happened to be some small pieces of money, I 
took them too ; but gave all to the poor. 

" He who formed me gave me a truly compassionate 
and benevolent heart. I could never see a poor per- 
son without feeling the emotions of pity. I afforded 
every assistance in my power, and gave all I had to 
give. My school-fellows frequently laughed at me 


on these occasions, and made no scruple to discover 
that they despised my simplicity, and considered me 
as half a fool." 

This charge of simplicity, with respect to his gene- 
ral character at these years, he is indeed very ready to 
admit — " If," says he, "on a market day, any person 
gave me a penny, I would go with it to the first shop 
I saw, and ask if they had not something they could 
let me have for a penny. Such childish absurdities 
procured me very generally the name of simpleton. 

" From my earliest youth," he adds, " till my return 
from my first excursion into foreign countries, and 
even for a . considerable time after, all talents for 
speaking, or even giving a relation of what I had seen 
or known, and still more for close and just reasoning, 
appeared to be denied me. If it be true, that I have 
since attained, in part, to an ordinary measure o; 
diction and eloquence, it is to be observed, that 
through the whole of my earlier years not the least 
trace of any such endowment was apparent. My 
mother possessed much natural readiness and pro- 
priety of speech, and was therefore the more sensible 
of my extraordinary want of all power of expression. 
It is true, at home, while in the presence of my 
mother, I was always under the greatest restraint, and 
at school I dared not open my mouth for fear of the 
ridicule of my schoolfellows. If at any time I ven- 
tured to say any thing, the answer I generally received 
was the exclamation — Could any simple child ever 
say any thing sillier ? 

" Now," continues he, writing in 1779, " I have lost, 


or rather appear to have lost, this simplicity ; yet still 
I experience hours, and often whole days, in which the 
same childishness, timidity, and awkward simplicity 
again returns ; and I should be exposed to the inca- 
pacity and absurdity of expression, which has so fre- 
quently perplexed and rendered me ridiculous in my 
youth, had not the experience acquired by time taught 
me to conceal my infirmity, or retire when I feel it 
coming upon me. By this childishness, awkwardness, 
and simplicity, which has ever been a principal feature 
of my character from my earliest youth, may many 
phenomena of my riper years be explained, which 
must appear wholly inexplicable to every one, who has 
not had an opportunity to become acquainted with 
this trait in my character. A certain childish spirit 
appears to be inseparable from my nature ; though I 
cannot conceal that from my earliest youth, when 
irritated by injustice, I have ever been ready to oppose 
the perpetrator of it with my utmost force, and a kind 
of frantic courage, forgetful of every danger." 

While Lavater continued at school, an incident 
occurred which has so particular a relation to the 
profession for which he was afterwards set apart, that 
it ought not to be passed unnoticed. M. Caspar 
Ulrich, minister at Fraumunster, and one of the super- 
intendants of the gymnasium, or college, a clergyman 
well known there by his theological writings, came 
one day into the school, and exclaimed among the 
scholars, — "Which of you will be a minister?" 
Young Lavater, without having ever thought of any 
such thing before, cried out so hastily and loudly, that 


all his companions burst into aloud laugh, — "I, I. 
He answered thus without the least consideration, or 
indeed any particular inclination. But scarcely had 
the word passed his lips, than he began to feel a 
desire, which soon became a wish, and that wish so 
firm a resolution, that he seemed to himself already a 
minister. He went home, and the moment he opened 
the door, exclaimed, — " I will be a minister. There 
has been a gentleman in the school to-day who has 
asked us all what we would be. I know what I 
will be." His mother checked him, and said, — 
" Surely that does not depend on your will alone ; 
you will, I hope, ask the advice and permission of 
your father and myself." His father made more 
objections, though in a less hasty manner, and young 
Caspar knew not what to answer. His mother at 
length put an end to the discourse, by saying, — " It 
will be time enough several years hence to decide 
this question, in the mean time let events take their 
course ; it is very possible this may not have hap- 
pened merely by chance." 

The parents of Lavater had, in fact, never enter- 
tained an idea of educating their son for the church ; 
they had intended him for the practice of medicine, the 
profession of his father. He had likewise an uncle, 
Matthias Lavater, who was an apothecary, and an 
elder brother, John Conrad. His uncle had no chil- 
dren, and was very fond of him. It was proposed, 
therefore, to educate him for a physician, and make 
his brother an apothecary. But the incident of young 
Lavater's declaring he would be a minister appears to 


have made a considerable impression on his parents, 
and to have appeared to them more deserving atten- 
tion the more they reflected on it. They commu- 
nicated it, with all its circumstances, to the divines, 
Wirz and Zimmermann, and preceptor Muller, who 
told them that, in their opinion, the apparently 
thoughtless expression of the child ought not to be 
too lightly disregarded; it might be a divine impulse ; 
and that young Lavater, notwithstanding all his irre- 
gularity of character, possessed abilities, and a good 
and pious heart. They likewise suggested, that to 
enter him in the register of those intended to be set 
apart for the clerical profession would be attended 
with no restriction to their changing their design 
should they afterwards think it necessary. 

Such observations and advice, from persons of such 
eminence for their learning and piety, had great weight 
with the parents of Lavater, and removed all their 
scruples. They, besides, recollected, that if Caspar 
became a clergyman, he had a younger brother who 
might be a physician. His uncle, who had no greai. 
predilection for the clergy, was the principal obstacle. 
It was, however, to the great satisfaction of Lavater, 
considered as determined, though silently and without 
any formal or positive declaration, that he should be a 
minister. He was now only in his tenth year. 

His disposition of mind about this time is thus 
described by himself: 

" Amid all my volatility and irregularity, all my 
propensity to giddy mirth, I continually felt a some- 
thing which restrained me, and inclined me to serious- 
b * 


ness, or, if any choose so to call it, melancholy. Fre- 
quently have I thrown away every thing in which I 
took delight, condemned myself for every smile, and 
accused myself of forgetfulness of my God, every 
breath I drew. — Then would I hide myself in solitude, 
and shed bitter tears. Then was I sunken so low 
that I could neither look on heaven nor earth ; neither 
to God, nor to men. It is true, these feelings soon 
became feebler, but I never entirely lost them. There 
was always a principle in me which incited, impelled, 
and forced me to seek something more exalted, more 
noble. Addicted as I appeared to be, and was by na- 
ture, to levity and heedless mirth, conspicuous as this 
exterior of my character, which in part was pleasing, 
seemed to every one, there was still in the depths of 
my soul, an ardent thirst for things invisible, a striving 
after powers and energies not the objects of sight. I 
felt something within me, which, when I suffered 
under that oppression and restraint, which was my 
natural infirmity, seemed to say to me — though thou 
art the sport and ridicule of all around thee, thou hast 
that in thee which they have not, and knowest and 
feelest what they know not and feel not. This con- 
sciousness does not appear to me to have been either 
pride or vanity ; nor did I express it in words as I 
have now written it. I had, in fact, no particular 
ambition ; but my enjoyment was in my own world, 
in my own imaginations and sensations ; and a prin- 
cipal source of the disappointments and mortifications 
I suffered was, that I would sometimes endeavour to 
discourse seriously of, and communicate, these extra- 


ordinary sensations and ideas to others, by whom I 
was misunderstood, repulsed, and ridiculed." 

To enable the reader to form some idea of the 
singular manner of thinking and enthusiasm of La- 
vater, even at this age, we give the following extract 
from his own account of himself during his earlier 
years, which cannot, perhaps, be introduced more 
properly than by the words of his biographer and 
son-in-law, M. Gessner, when he cites the same pas- 
sage. — " I am not in the least solicitous what some 
of my readers may, perhaps, think of these facts ; I 
have only to represent him such as he really was, and 
this cannot be done better than in his own words." 

" Prayer, amid all the storms of indiscretion and 
passion, was ever indispensably necessary to my 
heart and circumstances. By its aid I was delivered 
from many difficulties and perplexities, from which 
no human power or wisdom could have extricated 
me. Had I talked in church and been observed, and 
were I consequently in anxious fear of deserved chas- 
tisement, I prayed and escaped punishment. Was 
any thing discovered that I had concealed, and were 
I fearful of the displeasure and rebuke of my pa- 
rents, I prayed, and no more inquiries were made 
upon the subject. Had I lost or misapplied money, 
either from profusion or charity, and were I to 
give an account of it — for my mother used to exa- 
mine very strictly in what manner I expended every 
shilling which she knew that I had — I prayed, and 
received, before the time came when I was to give 
my account, some present of pocket-money from my 


grand-mother, my father, or some other person. It 
is scarcely possible to conceive the strength of my 
faith, at these years, when I was in difficulties and 
trouble. If I could pray, it seemed to me that I had 
already obtained the object of my prayer. Once, 
when I had given in an exercise, on which much de- 
pended, and after it was in the hands of the master, I 
recollected that I had written relata instead of reve- 
lata. Can there be a stronger proof of the simplicity 
and strength of my childish faith, than that I prayed 
to God that he would correct the word, and write ve 
above it with black ink?-— The fool may here laugh, 
the philosopher sneer, the infidel doubt, and the 
simple talk of chance — the ve was written above in 
another hand, with black ink, somewhat blacker than 
mine, and my exercise was adjudged faultless. I 
believe the correction was made by the master from 
the partial kindness he entertained for me, and I think 
it was anxiety and presentiment on my part which 
assumed the form of prayer. Let this suffice. I did 
not investigate, I felt. I did not analyze and decom- 
pose my food ; I fed on it. I had a God who had 
taught me to pray, and who heard my prayer ; a God 
who was indispensable to me because he afforded me 
aid. O that I could again return to the artless, inno- 
cent, blessed simplicity of my early days !" 

To those who have not considered the inconsis- 
tencies of the human heart, the passage which im- 
mediately follows this, when compared with the pre- 
ceding, will appear not a little remarkable. 

" Notwithstanding all the careful vigilance of cay 


rnother to prevent my associating with any low and 
vulgar children, and the abhorrence she endeavoured 
to instil into me of cursing and swearing, and care- 
fully as she made me weigh all my words, I had 
nevertheless contracted, I know not how, a dreadful 
custom of uttering, whenever I was irritated by vio- 
lence and wrong, the most monstrous curses and evil 
wishes. Once, I remember, a mischievous boy having 
broken with a blow, a small looking-glass I had in my 
pocket, I poured on him a torrent of curses, loading him 
with every imprecation my invention could suggest. 
One of my teachers chanced to hear me, and remon- 
strated with me in such a manner on my disgraceful 
behaviour, that for a long time afterwards, I never could 
see him without the strongest emotions of shame." 

In the beginning of the year 1755, Lavater left the 
grammar school, and entered a student in the college. 
Of the progress he made while at school he says — 
" It was extremely common : I was in the truest 
sense of the word ignorant ; which," adds he, writing 
in 1779, " with the leave of John Caspar Lavater be 
it spoken, I still continue, in a degree exceeding all 
belief, whatever others may think. What it was abso- 
lutely necessary I should learn, I learned from neces- 
sity ; and when I could no longer avoid it, was indus 
trious for a week or a fortnight, and made such use 
of my time that in my next exercise I surprised my 
teachers and fellow scholars. In solid knowledge I 
was entirely deficient. I had in fact profited nothing; 
though in the last half-year or year that I continued 
in the school, I always ranked as one of the foremost 


" With respect to the character of my heart, it con- 
tinued still the same. I was feeble and pliable; not 
to be induced to commit what I considered as wrong 
and unjust, but easily led into folly and wanton mis- 
chief. Actuated by a pure and disinterested bene- 
volence, I did good, according to the means I pos- 
sessed, even to profusion and extravagance. I bestowed 
happiness wherever it was in my power, and suffered 
myself indescribably when Isaw others suffer." 

In January, 1756, his elder brother Conrad died of a 
consumption, and his death occasioned young Lavater 
seriously to reflect on the shortness of human life, and 
the transitory nature of all sublunary things. In this 
disposition of mind, he tells us, he entered the cham- 
ber in which his brother lay dead on the bed, being 
not yet put into his coffin. As he opened the door, 
he imagined he saw gliding before him an appearance 
of a dull whiteness, a pale shapeless phantom, and ran 
terrified, as if chased by a spectre, into another room, 
where he could scarcely keep himself from fainting. 
All who saw him were equally astonished and alarmed 
at his agitation, and the death-like paleness of his 
looks ; but notwithstanding their inquiries he did not 
discover to them the real cause of his terror. 

" From this moment," says he, " I became subject 
to so great a fear of apparitions, ghosts, and phantoms, 
that I could not stay a single moment alone, neither 
by night nor day, in a room which had the door shut. 
Yet, for a long time, I could not prevail on myself to 
confess this fear to any person. What a struggle, 
what contrivance was necessary continually to conceal 
it! What did I not suffer when my mother sent me 


in the evening to fetch any thing from an empty- 
room ! This fear was so violent that I could not con- 
ceive it possible that I should ever be freed from it 
during the remainder of my life ; and the most deter- 
mined courage of which I could form an idea was to be 
able to remain alone in a room for a quarter of an hour. 
When I read of any learned man that he loved soli- 
tude, or that he had shut himself up, my admiration 
could not possibly be increased by any thing else 
related of him. — Oh, how indescribably delicate, irri- 
table, and easily wounded, is the nervous system which 
nature formed to produce the being called John Caspar 
Lavater ! — This torturing fear continued to harass me 
many years, but gradually, I know not precisely in 
what manner, it left me, and left me so completely, that 
I never feel myself happier, or more tranquil and 
cheerful, than in those moments and hours when I am 
entirely alone." 

At college, Lavater prosecuted his studies under the 
direction of Bodmer and Breitinger, two of the most 
distinguished tutors in the seminary; he also con- 
tracted a confidential and ardent friendship with 
Henry Hess, and his brothers Felix and Jacob Hess, 
and Henry Fuseli, who is now so well known in this 
country for his eminent talents as a painter of peculiar 
powers and genius. 

Towards the close of the year 1759, Lavater was 
received into the theological class, under the divinity 
professor Zimmermann. In the following year he 
preached his first probationary sermon,- in which he 
displayed an originality of manner, and an earnestness 


and pathos, which made a great impression on his 
hearers, though these consisted only of the professor 
and his fellow-students. About this time, he wrote 
various religious poems and hymns ; among others, 
one entitled " Jesus on Golgotha," which he after- 
wards revised and published. In the spring of 1762, 
having completed his course of divinity studies, more, 
as he observes, to the satisfaction of his professor and 
tutors than his own, he was ordained a minister. 

In the year 1762, Lavater, actuated by that general 
benevolence and patriotic zeal which he so disinterest- 
edly displayed to the last moment of his life, engaged 
in an undertaking which excited great attention, and 
procured him the love and esteem of his fellow- 
citizens. Felix Grebel, bailiff of Gruningen, one of 
the bailiwicks of Zurich, grossly abused his authority 
as a magistrate, and was notoriously guilty of acts of 
oppression and extortion ; yet, the sufferers being 
poor, dared not complain to the magistrates of Zurich, 
since the burgermaster of that time, (one of the first in 
the state), was the father-in-law of the delinquent. 
The honest indignation of Lavater was strongly ex- 
cited by the numerous complaints he heard, and the 
undeniable proofs he obtained of the repeated acts of 
injustice committed by the bailiff; yet the connexions 
of the offender, whom impunity rendered every day 
bolder, were so powerful, that he was convinced it was 
most advisable to proceed at first with secrecy and cau- 
tion. In conjunction with his friend Fuseli, equally an 
ardent enemy to injustice and oppression, he sent an 
anonymous letter to the bailiff, signed with the letters 


J 0. L. in which, after reproaching him in the strong- 
est terms with the enormities of which he had been 
guilty, he concluded tnus : — " I give you two months 
— within that time, either restore what you have un- 
justly extorted, or expect justice. I conjure you to 
communicate this letter to those who, if you are 
innocent, can do you right. Call on me, I conjure 
you, within fourteen days, in the public gazettes ; you 
shall find me ready to give you every satisfaction. 
But, if you neither vindicate yourself from my charge, 
nor restore your extortions, you shall, as God lives, 
exposed to utmost shame, be made the sacrifice of 
offended justice. — Rely not on the influence and pro- 
tection of your worthy father-in-law, whom you have 
so often disgraced — he has a mind too noble to afford 
you aid. He will not sacrifice the honour he has 
acquired by a life of integrity of seventy years, to a 

character base as yours I repeat, I give you two 

months. You shall be weighed in the balance — see 
that you are not found wanting." 

This letter was dated August 27, 1762. Lavater 
and Fuseli waited the two months they had appointed, 
but the corrupt bailiff had not the courage to require 
satisfaction, either in the manner proposed to him, or 
in any other way ; nor did he appear disposed to make 
reparation for any acts of injustice or extortion that 
he had committed. Lavater therefore wrote a paper 
entitled, " The Unjust Bailiff, or the Complaints of a 
Patriot," of which he had a small number of copies 
printed, and sent one to each of the members of the 
government, sealed, and superscribed with his pavti- 



cular address, with a motto peculiarly adapted to tae 
character of each. These mottoes were so extremexy 
appropriate, that they made a greater impression on 
many of those to whom they were addressed than even 
the contents of the paper itself. The general motto 
to each of the papers was — " Brutus, thou sleepest ! — 
Ah ! wert thou alive !" 

In consequence of the distribution of these papers 
among all the members of the magistracy, a meeting 
of the council of Zurich was held, in which it was 
determined to publish a notice, requiring that the 
author of the accusation should, within the space of 
a month, personally appear before the council to sub- 
stantiate and prove the charges he had made, assuring 
him that he should meet with justice and impartiality ; 
and at the same time signifying that, if he did not 
appear, every means would be employed to detect and 
punish him for his anonymous slander. The same 
notice required all those who thought themselves ag- 
grieved to appear, and make their complaints to the 
burgermaster, promising them an impartial hearing 
and effectual redress. This notice was published on 
the 4th of December, 1762. 

On the same day M. Grebel, the bailiff, who was 
the object of these charges, and who had hitherto 
maintained so cautious a silence, appeared before the 
council to lodge his complaint, and claim its justice 
and protection against a libel which had been printed 
and circulated to defame his character. It was, in fact, 
in vain for him to be longer silent, as the affair had 
now become public, and it was evident would be in- 
vestigated by the proper authorities. 


The publication of the notice from the council en- 
couraged many persons who had been oppressed by 
the bailiff to appear, and state their complaints to the 
burgermaster, who on the 16th of December informed 
the council that he had already received charges 
against the party accused from twenty different per- 
sons. A committee of six members was therefore 
appointed by the council to examine and report on 
the matter of the accusations. 

Lavater and Fuseli appeared before the council on 
the 24th of the same month, and avowed themselves 
the authors of the anonymous letter referred to in the 
notice. They behaved with all that firmness which 
conscious integrity and a zeal for justice inspire in 
ardent minds. When asked why they had chosen to 
proceed in the manner they did, and not by an imme- 
diate complaint to the magistrates, Lavater produced 
a paper, stating the reasons of their conduct in this 
particular, in language so energetic and convincing, 
that no further objection was made to the mode they 
had pursued. 

Before Lavater discovered himself to be the author 
of this anonymous accusation, he suffered extreme 
anxiety on account of the alarm which he knew his 
parents would feel, when they should learn that he had 
adventured to bring charges against a magistrate in- 
timately connected with persons of the first authority 
and influence in the government. Under the impres- 
sion of this uneasiness he first made known his secret 
to the minister Wirz, who introduced the disclosure of 
it to his parents by saying — " I come to wish you joy 


of a son, who by his zeal for justice not merely gives 
the promise of being a great man, but already is a 
great man." The father of Lavater ; however, ex- 
pressed great fears of the consequences of so bold an 
undertaking ; but M. Wirz, clapping him on the shoul- 
der, replied — " Rejoice, doctor, in such a son, who 
speaks when no other person dares to speak. That 
justice for which he displays so ardent a zeal shall 
cover him with its wing;s." 

It would be tedious and uninteresting to enter into 
a minute account of the progress and investigation of 
this affair. Suffice it to say that Grebel, the bailiff, 
against whom the charges were preferred, did not 
think it advisable to wait the result and consequences 
of the inquiries of the committee appointed to ex- 
amine into his conduct, but confessed his guilt by 
absconding from justice. 

In the beginning of March, 1763, Lavater set out 
with his friends, Hess and Fuseli, on a journey to 
Berlin, whence they proposed to proceed to Barth, in 
Swedish Pomerania, to visit the president Spalding, 
with whom they were well acquainted by his writings, 
and from whose conversation they expected to derive 
equal entertainment and instruction. " We had 
always," says Lavater, " considered this excellent man 
as one of the most enlightened and acute thinkers of 
the age, and one of the most worthy of the servants 
of Christ. Our principal object, therefore, was, by 
making some stay with him to fit ourselves for the 
future exercise of our sacred profession." 

Professor Sulzer, from Wintherthur, who was then 


in Switzerland, and M. Jezeler, from SchafFhausen, 
likewise agreed to accompany the young friends on 
their excursion to Berlin. M. Sulzer, in the course of 
this tour, introduced his fellow-travellers to many per- 
sons of distinguished literary merit to whom he was 
himself known. Of these and others, with whom Mr. 
Lavater became acquainted at Berlin, he has given 
characteristic sketches in several of his letters; but as 
many of them, though men of genius and abilities, are 
scarcely known, even by name, here, we shall only 
select such of these sketches as are descriptive of men 
of celebrity, or of persons whose portraits are to be 
found among the plates illustrative of the Physiogno- 
monical Essays. It will appear from these how early 
Mr. Lavater began to observe and portray physiogno- 

" Gellert," he says, " of whom we were favoured 
with a sight only for a few moments, has the physiog- 
nomy of a profound philosophical Christian. Intelli- 
gence beams in his eyes, and a spirit of integrity and 
philanthropy is displayed on his lips. His whole 
body, however, exhibits melancholy weakness in a 
human shape. In the features of his countenance we 
discern no ray of the powerful animation of his 
writings, and the vivacity of his style. 

" Zollikofer has a pale, long, but honest and spirited 
countenance. He is a lover of polite literature, a man 
of taste, philanthropic, sincere, generally beloved and 
honoured, as well on account of the simplicity of his 
doctrine as his blameless life. 

" Ernesti, a not very old but fully mature man, of 


a pale complexion, with deep, thinking, blue eyes, 
under a projecting forehead, with scarcely any eye- 
brows : — speaking mildly in the firm tone of a judi- 
cious philosopher. A man with whom it is very 
pleasing to converse ; and whose whole conversation 
and manner bears the character of sincerity and inte- 
grity. He has, as Fuseli said, the Zurich air in his 

Euler, the celebrated mathematician, whose portrait 
he drew with his own hand while he was at Berlin, he 
has thus described, in his characteristic manner — " An 
open singular countenance, exempt from every appear- 
ance of seriotis profundity of thought. A forehead in 
which penetration and mathematical precision cannot 
be mistaken. — He is very cheerful and entertaining, 
and has nothing affected or pedantic in his manner. 
He has much good-humoured wit, and converses with 
great vivacity on every subject. He asked us jocosely, 
making it as it were a kind of case of conscience, 
whether it were right for two clergymen of the re- 
formed church to come so far to visit, and make so 
long a stay with a Lutheran divine, adding, " have 
you reformed Spalding, or has he made you a Luthe- 
ran?" — We both answered, "We are convinced of the 
truth of Christianity." 

Lavater neglected no opportunity that presented 
itself of seeing and conversing with persons distin- 
guished by any great qualities; by their learning, 
religion, or virtues. In a letter written to his parents, 
while on his excursion to Berlin and Barth he ob- 
serves—" I have, in fact, never seen any great man 


without advantage, abstracting from the profit I have 
derived from his conversation. I always feel a forcible 
impulse to employ my own powers in the best manner 
possible, in the circle in which I act, to do honour to 
my Maker. I do not seek fame, it would be pride 
and folly so to mistake my abilities ; but I hold it to 
be the certain sign of a little mind, not to feel how 
great we may become, when we only strive to reach 
that perfection which it is possible for us to attain." 

Mr. Lavater, with his friends Hess aud Fuseli, 
arrived at Barth, in May, 1763. They were received 
by Spalding in the most courteous and friendly man- 
ner, and continued with him till January, 1764. 
During their stay they accompanied him in a journey 
he made to Stralsund, to see his father-in-law, the 
superintendent Gebhard, and afterwards proceeded 
with him to Bollwitz, in the island of Rugen. Of 
Spalding he thus speaks in terms of the warmest 
admiration and friendship. — " The penetration of this 
great man ; his pure, elegant and just taste, which 
appeared still more conspicuous in his conversation 
and in his whole manner, than even in his immortal 
writings ; his profound, comprehensive, and judiciously 
selected learning ; and, above all, his exalted moral 
feeling ; his noble animation, and the unalterable pro- 
priety of all his sentiments ; the inartificial open con- 
fidence and simplicity of his whole character, — made 
on us so forcible an impression, that we could not but 
rejoice in our inmost hearts, that we could enjoy the 
conversation and instruction of so extraordinary a man." 

While he remained at Barth, he commenced those 


literary labours, which he afterwards so indefatigably 
continued through a life of sixty years, by writing in a 
periodical work, entitled — "An ample and critical 
Account of the principal Publications of the present 
Time : with other Notices relative to Literature." — 
Many of the critiques on theological books in this 
Review are by him ; but so private were his commu- 
nications, that his name was not known even to the 
editors. He also entered into a literary contest with 
M. Bahrdt, a minister at Berlin, on the subject of a 
book published about that time by M. Krugot, chaplain 
to the prince of Carolath, entitled — " Christ in Soli- 
tude." This work M. Bahrdt considered as contain- 
ing many erroneous opinions, and in the zeal of ortho- 
doxy published his observations on it under the title 
of— " Christ in Solitude: corrected and improved." 
Lavater, who greatly admired the book, though he did 
not coincide with the author in all his sentiments, im- 
mediately transmitted an anonymous letter to Bahrdt, 
which he afterwards published, written with all that 
warmth and vehemence which the idea of an act of 
injustice committed against another naturally produced 
in him. In this letter he charged Bahrdt with having 
purposely wrested many passages from their real 
meaning, and misrepresented the principles of the 
author—" And this," says he, " I think I may saj with 
certainty, you have done contrary to the conviction of 
your conscience from mean and base views. If you 
really have read the work you so disingenuously con- 
demn, which whether you have or not may well appear 
doubtful, I am persuaded that you have rejoiced when 


you have found a passage from which you could 
extract a meaning you could pronounce heretical. 
Were I actuated by the same evil disposition, I have 
no doubt I could find a hundred passages in your 
writings, which, treated in the same manner, would 
yield full as much heresy." 

Bahrdt published a second part of his observa- 
tions, in which he animadverted on the letter he had 
received from Lavater, with all the heat of orthodoxy, 
calling his antagonist " one of the despisers of the 
religion of Jesus, an enemy of the cross of Christ, 
and a wolf in sheep's clothing." 

Lavater now published his first letter, and likewise 
an answer to the reply of Bahrdt, in which, after fur- 
ther defending the author, whose cause he had under- 
taken to vindicate, he took notice of the aspersions 
cast on himself. To these he replied by making a 
declaration of the faith he held, which, as we can 
have no better authority to determine what his real 
opinions on some of the principal articles 'of the 
Christian religion were, we shall here insert. 

" That you may not," says he, addressing himself 
to Bahrdt, " mistake my real opinions on the subject 
of the religion of Christ, and avail yourself of the op- 
portunity, where my expressions may not be clear and 
determinate, to pervert and render them suspicious, I 
shall here give a declaration of the faith which I hold, 
sincerely, and from internal conviction, with respect to 
some of the particular doctrines of Christianity that 
have an immediate relation to the present subject. 

" I believe that the everlasting God and Father lias 


sent his eternal only begotten Son into the world, to 
take our nature, to be our teacher, our example, and 
redeemer ; to show us the way to eternal happiness, and 
to restore to us, without any merit on our own part, 
or any view to our good works, if, indeed, we have 
performed any, the right to immortality and positive 
beatitude, which we had lost by the sin of Adam and 
our own transgressions. I believe that Jesus Christ, 
by his death, has reconciled the sins of the world ; 
that is, has made that possible which by no good dis- 
positions of heart, by no works of the purest virtue, 
could have been made possible, namely, the satisfac- 
tion for our sins ; that therefore this sacrifice of Jesus 
Christ is the only ground of comfort and positive sal- 
vation for all those, and only for those, who believe 
in Christ ; that is, who receive the whole doctrine of 
the gospel with full consent of heart; and when, by 
an unprejudiced examination they are convinced of 
its divinity, sacrifice to its clear and evident proofs, 
not their reason, but all the prejudices of their under- 
standing and their heart, and every lesser weight of 
probability on the contrary side. 

" Such a state of mind is in the best moral order, 
and is not only a source of all virtue, but is itself the 
greatest of virtues ; the internal, immediate salvation 
of the soul, without which not only no salvation is 
possible, but which likewise is all that man on his 
part can contribute towards his salvation ; or, which 
is the same thing, all that God requires of him to 
render him capable of receiving the positive instruc- 
tions of his grace. 


" I find also, in this gospel, to my comfort and edi- 
fication in good works, the doctrine, expressed with 
sufficient clearness and conviction, of the manifold 
assistance of divine grace, particularly by an imme- 
diate influence of the Holy Spirit on our souls: though 
I meet with no formal proofs of the uninterrupted 
action of this divine person upon all Christians alike, 
and extending to every good emotion of the heart ; 
unless I esteem as such what appears only to have 
reference to the miraculous gifts bestowed on the first 

" This I believe, and this faith will I avow before 
the whole world." 

Lavater and his young friends left Barth on the 
24th of January, 1764, and were accompanied by 
Spalding to Berlin, where they continued till the 1st 
of March, when they again set out, Lavater and Hess, 
on their return to Switzerland, and Fuseli to accom- 
pany them to Gottingen, whence he proposed to pro- 
ceed to London. 

At Quedlinburg they made a visit to Klopstock, the 
celebrated German poet, who received them in the 
most friendly manner, and as if they had been for 
years his most intimate acquaintances. They con- 
tinued here three days, the greater part of which 
Aey passed with Klopstock, of whom Lavater says : 
— " It is impossible to conceive any idea of a more 
obliging and friendly man than Klopstock. He dis- 
courses on every subject with remarkable propriety 
and liveliness; and joins to an excellent heart an 
extremelv cheerful manner." 


At Halberstadt he again, saw M. Gieim, and thence 
took his road by Brunswick to visit the worthy Ad e 
Jerusalem, with whose conversation he expressed 
himself highly gratified. From Brunswick he pro- 
ceeded to Gottingen, where he parted from his friend 
Fuseli. At Frankfort he remained only a day and a 
half, but in that time contracted a confidential friend- 
ship with M. Moser, which continued through the 
remainder of their lives. He then went by Stras- 
burg to Basle, where he had proposed to stay at least 
three days, but on his arrival there found a letter 
containing the melancholy information, that his father 
was so dangerously ill that he was not expected to 
live. He, therefore, proceeded without delay, accom- 
panied by his faithful friend Hess, to Zurich, where 
he arrived on the 24th of March, 1764. On his re- 
turn he found his father extremely ill, who exclaimed 
at sight of him, " Oh ! I again see my son John 
Caspar !" But so little hope was entertained of his 
recovery, that Lavater, on his arrival, wrote to his 
friend Henry Hess—" I am here, waiting to receive 
the last blessing of a dying father — yet I may, per- 
haps, find a moment to embrace you." His anxiety 
and grief, however, was soon changed into joy, for 
from that time his father began to recover, though 
slowly, till his health was entirely restored. 

Lavater now employed his time in reading with the 
utmost assiduity, and making extracts from all the 
theological works that made their appearance. He 
likewise cultivated his poetical talents, and wrote a 
great number of hymns and religious poems ; and 


began a poetical translation of the Psalms. In the 
course of the year 1766, he inserted many pieces, both 
in prose and verse, in a weekly publication, entitled, 
" The Remembrancer," to which he was a principal 
contributor, though his name did not appear. 

In June, 1766, he married Miss Anna Schinz, the 
daughter of a respectable merchant, who held an 
office in the civil magistracy. The affection by which 
this union was cemented being founded on virtue and 
religion, the happiness it produced proved as lasting 
as it was pure and rational. 

In the course of the following year, he published 
the first edition of his " Swiss Songs," which passed 
through a greater number of editions than any other 
of his works; and in 1769 appeared his translation of 
" Bonnet's Palingenesia;" and a poem, or rather the 
plan of a poem which was never completed, entitled 
" Prospects into Eternity," in three volumes, published 
successively. As the latter work attracted much notice 
at the time, and was supposed to avow several of the 
peculiar opinions entertained by Lavater, or at least 
attributed to him, we shall here give an extract from 
a letter which he wrote soon after its appearance to 
the Abbe Jerusalem, at Brunswick, who had written 
to Dr. Zimmermann to express the great pleasure he 
had received from a perusal of the work, adding some 
observations relative to the subjects on which it 

" You wish a heaven and a saviour to all your 
fellow men ; the inhabitants of this earth, who are 
good and virtuous. I wish the same. My opinion is 



not, that the morally good will not be saved, will not 
enter into the heaven of Christ, as soon as they shall 
know and love him. I hope in God, who is love, and 
has not spared his only begotten Son, but given him 
for us all : in this God I hope, that not only the half- 
christians, but even all the condemned, converted by 
the mediation of his Son, shall enter his heaven. When 
. I speak of the elect, I mean the Christians who have 
part in the first resurrection, or if you rather choose 
so to express it, who, immediately after the resurrec- 
tion, shall enter the heaven of Christ. I am indeed 
ashamed to leave Socrates behind, even for a moment. 
Had he seen Jesus, he would have been a good Chris- 
tian, as Paul was, as soon as he saw him. — But there 
are not many Socrates. 

" I strongly felt the force of your reasons for the 
sleep of souls, an opinion to which I had long been 
secretly inclined, since it at once removes innumerable 
difficulties — but we find so many examples, of which 
we wait the explanation, that seem to indicate a state 
of conscious existence. I need not remind you of the 
rich man and Lazarus, whose state after death Christ 
appears to describe as it literally was ; or of the thief 
on the cross ; St. Stephen ; St. Paul; or the apparition 
of Moses and Elias. Shall we not, at least, be com- 
pelled to make exceptions of these cases ? However 
advantageous it might have been for me as a poet to 
assume the sleep of souls, one difficulty would yet 

remain, which you have yourself mentioned I mean 

the appearance of departed spirits. I have never seen 
an apparition, nor is there any person related to me 


who imagines he has seen one. I will set aside all 
such stories ; they shall all be false — but what are we 
to think of Swedenborg? I must confess that I am as 
disposed to reject, as any person can be, the many 
ridiculous things which are so offensive in his writ- 
ings; but must not the almost undeniable historical 
facts, adduced by Kant in his " Dreams of a Ghost- 
seer," to mention these only, be of the greatest weight 
with every impartial mind ? It is true, almost every 
thing is repulsive in this extraordinary man, and his 
still more extraordinary works. I will- not suffer my- 
self to be imposed on by the tone of candour and 
simplicity in which he affirms that he has seen the 
spirits of the dead — but what can the most incredulous 
person object to relations which are as well confirmed 
as any thing in this world can be? In this case I 
cannot avoid yielding. At any rate nothing appears 
to me more to deserve the examination of the philo- 
sopher and the Christian, than the incredible asser- 
tions of this inexplicable man. If he be, as Ernesti 
thinks, a deceiver, the world ought to know it ; if 
what he affirms be true, we ought to believe in him." 

We shall here give another extract from this same 
letter, as it relates to certain opinions, which Lavater 
appears to have maintained, at least in substance, 
during his whole life. 

" I have prescribed to myself, as an inviolable rule 
in the writing of my poem, to say nothing in it which 
is not philosophically or theologically true, or which 
cannot be proved to have the highest degree of pro- 
bability. I expect, therefore, from every reader and 


critic of my work, fthat he will point out to me what 
he considers as mere invention or poetical licence. 
But I do not consider as such the reign of Christ on 
earth for a thousand years. I believe it as a divine. 
The particulars may perhaps have too much of inven- 
tion in them ; but the essential doctrine I consider as 
indubitable. The great proof for the establishment 
of a kingdom of Christ on earth is not found merely 
in some few passages of the New Testament, which ap- 
pear more or less to favour this doctrine ; but in the 
whole plan of revelation, of which the Old Testament 
is the foundation, and the New the accomplishment. 
It is certain that the prophets of the old covenant have 
unanimously foretold a kingdom of the Messiah. It 
is certain that they have so clearly expressed this idea 
of the future kingdom of the great Son of David, that 
were we not prejudiced, and confirmed by habit in a 
different opinion, we should not entertain a doubt that 
every single allusion, as well as the general images 
and modes of representation, describe this kingdom as 
an earthly monarchy. Who, when he reads the de- 
scription given by Daniel of the monarchies, of which 
that of the Messiah is to be the last, would suppose 
that this latter, and this alone, is of an essentially 
different nature, and to be sought out of this earth ? 
Who would conceive such an explanation -in the least 
probable, were he not previously prejudiced in favour 
of a spiritual kingdom? — Observe, I say a spiritual, 
not a heavenly kingdom. For, according to the 
received exposition of our divines, the sublime repre- 
sentations of the prophets refer to the spiritual power 


wliich Christ, since his ascension into heaven, exer- 
cises over his church. But this is an entirely new 
idea, arbitrarily ascribed to the prophets, and which 
the Jews have always justly rejected. In no part of 
the whole New Testament is the kingdom of Christ 
understood in this sense. We must rather understand 
it of the future beatitude of heaven, than of the state 
of the Christian church on earth. But even this 
meaning is not to be admitted. The prophets repre- 
sent the kingdom of the Messiah as a consequence of 
his coming upon earth. They speak as if he had 
brought this kingdom with him from heaven to earth. 
They speak of no other seat of this monarchy but this 
earth ; and of the land of Canaan as the centre of this 
kingdom. (Ezek. xxxiv. 27, 28. Zech. xiv. 8, 9.) 
Ezekiel, in the last chapters of his prophecy, has even 
given a map, as it were, of the manner in which the 
land of Judea shall be divided under this king. This 
kingdom is there represented as the fulfilment of the 
promise made to David that his son should possess 
his throne for ever. It will not be denied that the. 
Jews have always understood, and still understand, 
these prophecies in this sense. Has then the gospel 
changed all these ideas? Has it contradicted the 
general expectation of the Jewish nation, of more than 
six hundred years' continuance, as an idle prejudice? 
Has it shown that every thing is now to be understood 
spiritually? Nothing less. The ideas of Jesus and 
his apostles are the same with those of the ancient 
prophets, and so likewise are their expressions. John 
explicitly announces the kingdom of the Messiah — 



yes, he tells the Jews the Messiah will immediately 
come, arid his kingdom be offered to the nation — and 
had the Jews then accepted the Messiah, his kingdom 
would have immediately commenced. But how was 
it possible that the Messiah should be rejected, cru- 
cified, and put to death, and at the same time erect his 
kingdom on earth ? The former of these, however, 
must take place to fulfil those prophecies which foretel 
the sufferings and death of Christ ; the latter, there- 
fore, could not be at the same time. This seems, in- 
deed, to be contrary to the prophecies, which do not 
appear to be fulfilled by the coming and fate of Jesus 
of Nazareth. And, in fact, were this his first coming' 
the only one, the greater part of the prophecies would 
remain unfulfilled. 

" But let us see how the apostles explain this 
enigma. — They teach us there is a double coming of 
the Messiah ; the first that which has taken place, and 
is the fulfilment of those prophecies which speak of 
the sufferings of the Messiah ; and the second, which 
is still future, and will fulfil the other prophecies, 
which speak of his kingdom. — We now have a light 
to guide us. — All the passages of the New Testament, 
which relate to the second coming of the Messiah, 
serve to prove that by his first coming only a part of 
the prophecies relative to him are fulfilled. Such was 
the general opinion of the primitive fathers of the 
church with respect to the kingdom of the Messiah, 
as evidently appears from their writings. When a 
Jew objects — the Messiah, according to the account of 
the Christians, is already come, and yet his kingdom 


does not appear — the answer is satisfactory — He will 
come again, and with him come the times of re- 

" It has, for many years, appeared to me an ex- 
tremely forced explanation, and contrary to all the 
rules of sound exposition, when divines tell their 
hearers, or those who would search the Scriptures, that 
the numerous predictions of the prophets concerning 
this kingdom are fulfilled, and are to be understood 
spiritually. For a long time I knew not what to think. 
I feared to open a prophetic book ; and I had many 
secret doubts. The same occurred to me with respect 
to the resurrection. I almost found myself compelled 
to admit only one resurrection, or that of the just At 
length both difficulties were removed in such a manner 
principally by the aid of M. Hess, the author of the 
excellent history of the last three years of the life of 
Jesus, that I am now much calmer in my mind, can 
disregard some far less important difficulties, for all 
cannot be removed even by the clearest hypothesis, 
and find my faith in the divine authority of the Scrip- 
tures satisfactorily confirmed." 

The opinions, however, contained, or which ap- 
peared to be contained, in this work, produced many 
severe criticisms and reflections on the author, both from 
orthodox and heterodox divines, and even from many 
who professed the greatest friendship for him. A 
country pastor, full of scholastic theological learning, 
in his zeal, conceived it his duty formally to become 
the accuser of the dangerous book and its author be- 
fore the consistory. His charge he thus introduces — 


" There has lately appeared a publication, entitled 
' Prospects into Eternity.' I have found it filled with 
old and long-refuted errors ; and I am convinced that 
great scandal and injury may arise from it to the church. 
I have therefore considered in what manner these errors 
may best be detected, and every person warned against 
them ; and it appears to me most proper that I should 
lay my remarks before the venerable consistory which 
has the superintendence of the church and seminaries 
of education, which, when these errors are clearly 
pointed out, will, as a father and director, take such 
measures as to its wisdom shail seem meet, to correct 
the evil and prevent its dangerous consequences. I 
shall not speak of all, but only the principal of these 
false doctrines. I shall not therefore say anything of 
his ascribing to the universe not only immensity but 
infinity, since the one proceeds from the other ; yet is 
this position extremely dangerous. Infinity is by 
divines and philosophers numbered among the attributa 
divina quce. incommunicabilia sunt (the divine attributes 
which are incommunicable.) Whoever says the uni- 
verse is infinite, makes the universe God. I will say 
nothing of his opinion that our earth and the other 
great bodies of the universe are organized. This is in 
itself ridiculous. Nor will I make any observations 
on his always styling our Saviour only an extraordinary 
man ; and the confused manner in which he speaks of 
his divine origin. He says, « Jesus will raise the dead 
by the power now appropriate to him.' What power 
is that which is now appropriate to him ? There is 
great reason to suspect that this expression is derived 


from the error of those who make Christ a newly -created 
God. Lastly, I will not mention that he places the 
divinity of the books of the Old Testament merely in 
the opinion of men, since he always says, when speak- 
ing of any of them — ' which are considered as divine.' ' 

These are the errors of which he makes no mention ; 
his principal accusation was that Lavater endeavoured 
to overthrow the article of faith relative to the resur- 
rection of the dead. — He afterwards proceeds : — " I 
might say much, were it necessary, of his other chi- 
merical ideas, which are all of them most extravagant 
and absurd. Such is his vehicle of the soul, which, 
within the gross material body, has another organized, 
but invisible body — his doctrine that departed souls 
exist in an intermediate state till the last day, and 
then first enter into a state of the highest beatitude or 
dreadful condemnation ; that there is a double resur- 
rection ; and that there will be a millennium, or king 
dom, in which Christ will reign on earth a thousand 

Whatever may be the truth with respect to some of 
these opinions ascribed to Lavater, as contained in his 
work, others of them can only be deduced by a mani- 
fest perversion of the obvious meaning of his expres- 
sions, and it was not difficult for him to defend himself 
against the charge of having entertained them. The 
consistory, on receiving this accusation, cited him to 
give in his answer, which he did without delay, and 
the result was, that it was entirely approved by the 
consistory, and a notice sent in writing to his accuser, 
that the defence of Lavater had been found perfectly 


satisfactory, and that the consistory had adjudged the 
charge made against him to be without foundation. 

It is certain that Lavater was far from disposed to 
receive his opinions from the dictates of others, how- 
ever he might respect their learning or piety. He 
diligently examined and judged for himself, while his 
ardent imagination inclined him to embrace many 
opinions, which persons of a cooler disposition would 
consider as bordering, at least, on enthusiasm. The 
ideas he entertained on the efficacy of prayer, faith, 
and the gifts of the Spirit, had much of this tincture, 
rind exposed him frequently to the animadversions of 
his friends, as well as of his adversaries. On these 
subjects he entered into a correspondence with Rese- 
witz, Basedow, and several other learned and religious 
persons; and in the year 1769, drew up "Three Ques- 
tions," accompanied by a great number of citations 
and remarks, which he printed and sent round to a 
number of divines, who were personally known to him, 
and many others with whom he was only acquainted 
by their writings or general character. These ques- 
tions he prefaced with an earnest request that they 
would favour him with explicit answers to them. 
"Turn not aside," says he, "Christian reader, either 
to the right hand or to the left : let me have neither 
exclamations nor declamations, but an explicit answer, 
agreeable to the principles of just reasoning. — To any- 
thing else I shall not reply." 

The substance of these questions, which, with the 
passages cited, would be too long to be given here, 
are contained in the following observations on the 


same subjects, which we shall give in Mr. Lavater's 
own words from a tract he published about the same 

" I consider this inquiry as merely a critical exami- 
nation of the true doctrine of the writers of the scrip- 
tural books, without considering whether daily expe- 
rience agrees with their representations. The question 
is only, what have they really taught? 

" I find that these authors all agree that the Divine 
Being has revealed himself to certain men in an im- 
mediate and more evident and distinct manner, than 
by the customary operations and changes of nature. 
All of them relate appearances of the Deity, and acts 
of the Deity, which are not to be expected in the ordi- 
nary course of nature ; occurrences which manifestly 
depart from all our known experience of nature. They 
represent the Deity as a being to whom man can 
speak, and who returns him an answer. 

" I find that the scriptural authors ascribe these 
unusual operations to the Spirit of God. Spirit, or as 
the word originally signifies, wind, has two essential 
properties, invisibility and sensible activity — sensible 
operations, of which no natural cause can be assigned, 
are ascribed to the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit. 

" I find further, that the authors of these writings- 
are of opinion that it is one of the most excellent 
merits of the crucified Nazarene Jesus, that the imme- 
diate communication between the human race and the 
Deity, which had been interrupted by unbelief and 
ignorance of God, shall be restored. Man shall again 
by him be brought to a communion with God, whiclt 


has some resemblance to that in which he himself 
stands with the Deity. I find that they endeavour to 
confirm this idea by facts, which appear to place the 
meaning of these expressions beyond all doubt. 

" These authors say expressly, that the purpose of 
God to bring man, through Christ, to an immediate 
communion with his Spirit, was an eternal purpose ; 
that the promises of the gift of the Holy Ghost extend 
to all men who believe in Jesus Christ. They under- 
stand by these gifts of the Holy Spirit, as the facts 
they have related with so much simplicity evidently 
show, not those gifts or powers which are not to be 
distinguished from the natural or usual powers of the 
persons in whom they reside, but powers and proper- 
ties which are sensibly extraordinary, and by which 
their resemblance to Christ is rendered manifest. 

" In fine, which again leads us to the same result, 
I find in these sacred writings, frequent recommen- 
dations of faith in God. They assert that the simple 
receiving of the divine testimony bestows a power, far 
exceeding the usual powers of man. All things are 
possible, say they, to them which believe ; and they 
record histories according to which men, by the power 
of faith, have healed the sick, raised the dead, made the 
lame to walk, and the dumb to speak. There is not a 
word to signify that faith shall continue to bestow this 
power only during one, two, or three centuries, but it 
is said generally — ' Whosoever believeth in me hath 
eternal life.' — In the same manner it is said — « He that 
believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, 
and greater works than these shall he do.' 


" Should I be mistaken in this, which I do not 
believe that I am, another way still remains, which 
leads precisely to the same point. I mean the Scrip- 
ture doctrine of the power of prayer. The scriptural 
authors support the opinion that the Deity causes that 
to come to pass which is prayed for with firm faith. 
1 God heareth the prayer of the faithful.' The effects 
which they ascribe to prayer are not mere natural con- 
sequences of the act of praying in the heart of the 
person who prays ; they are positive external effects 
which have no visible connexion with the prayer itself. 
This doctrine they teach by precepts, and confirm by 
circumstantial histories. They do not, by a single 
word, or intimation of any kind, limit this power of 
prayer to certain persons, circumstances, or times. 

" 1 thus come to this proposition. — The scriptural 
writers are of opinion that it is possible, that it is the 
destination of man, to maintain a peculiar and imme- 
diate communion with the Deity." 

We have already mentioned an instance of the 
enthusiasm of Lavater on this subject, when almost a 
child, in the case of his school-exercise. The follow- 
ing anecdote, related by himself, will show, that he 
retained the same ideas, and acted according to the 
opinion he has here expressed, in his riper years. 

His mother, notwithstanding she possessed many 
excellent qualities, had yet some failings which were a 
cause of uneasiness to her son, and frequently a trial 
of his patience. In his confidential correspondence 
with his friends Felix and Henry Hess, especially the 
latter, he had occasionally made, though with great 


tenderness, some observations on this part of her 
character. The answers to these letters, which had 
relation to the same subject, he had carefully concealed 
in a place where he thought they would not be dis- 
covered, knowing that should they be seen by his 
mother, they would give her much offence, and pro- 
bably occasion great uneasiness in the family. His 
prudent precaution was, however, ineffectual. One 
day, when he entered his chamber, he saw, to his great 
surprise and alarm, his mother sitting at the table 
with all these letters thrown into a basket that stood 
by her — "You see, Hans," said she, "I have found 
all your private correspondence. I must gratify my 
curiosity to learn what is the subject of it." — Lavater, 
as he frequently assured his friends, was thunder- 
struck, and knew not in what manner to act. He, 
however, had recourse to earnest and humble solicita- 
tion of that divine aid in which through life he put his 
trust. He hastened into an adjoining chamber, threw 
himself on his knees, and prayed fervently that his 
mother might not read the letters. When he returned, 
he found that she had not proceeded to open any of 
them, they all lay together as before, in the basket ; 
and she returned them to him without having read a 
single letter. This incident, though it may only excite 
a smile from the generality of readers, made a forcible 
• impression on the ardent mind of Lavater, and greatly 
contributed, as he himself declared, to confirm him 
in his conviction of the truth of the doctrine he be- 
lieved to be taught in the Scriptures, of the efficacy of 
prayer with faith in all the occurrences of life. 


At the same time it is to be observed, that it cannot 
be objected to Lavater, that he was only strenuous for 
the speculative doctrines of religion, or the efficacy of 
faith, while he disregarded the practical part and moral 
duties of Christianity. The following resolutions, 
which contain the rules 4ie laid down for his observance 
through life, will show how sincerely and zealously he 
attended to the latter. 

" I will never, either in the morning or evening, 
proceed to any business, until I have first retired, at 
least for a few moments, to a private place, and im- 
plored God for his assistance and blessing. 

" I will neither do nor undertake anything which I 
would abstain from doing if Jesus Christ were stand- 
ing visibly before me; nor any thing of which I think 
it possible that I shall repent in the uncertain hour of 
my certain death. I will, with the divine aid, accus- 
tom myself to do every thing, without exception, in 
the name of Jesus Christ, and as his disciple ; to sigh 
to God continually for the Holy Ghost ; and to pre- 
serve myself in a constant disposition for prayer. 

" Every day shall be distinguished by at least one 
particular work of love. 

" Every day I will be especially attentive to pro- 
mote the benefit and advantage of my own family in 

" I will never eat or drink so much as shall occasion 
to me the least inconvenience or hindrance in my 
business; and between meal-times (a morsel in the- 
evening excepted) I will abstain, as much as possible 
from eating, and from wine. 


" Wherever I go, I will first pray to God that I may 
commit no sin there, but be the cause of some good. 

" I will never lay down to sleep without prayer ; 
nor, when I am in health, sleep longer than, at most, 
eight hours. 

" I will every evening examine my conduct through 
the day by these rules, and faithfully note down in my 
journal how often I offend against them. 

" O God ! thou seest what I have here written. — 
May I be able to read these my resolutions every 
morning with sincerity, and every evening with joy 
and the clear approbation of my conscience !" 

The " Journal of a Self-observer," which was pub- 
lished by Zollikofer at Leipsic, in 1771, is, in fact, the 
journal of Lavater, but with evidently altered dates. 
It is also not the same as it came from his pen. One 
of his friends, who had procured a copy of it, had made 
such alterations as he judged necessary, and sufficient 
to disguise it from the author. He then transmitted 
it to Zollikofer, who, convinced that its publication 
might do much good, caused it to be printed, and 
greatly surprised Lavater, by sending him a copy. 

In the year 1769, Mr. Lavater entered on the regular 
exercise of his duties as a minister, by being appointed 
deacon and preacher to the orphan house at Zurich. 
It was his own wish to have been the pastor of some 
congregation in the country; but Providence had des- 
tined him to act in a more enlarged sphere, and more 
suited to his talents and connexions. 

In the year 1769, Mr. Lavater published his trans- 
lation of the second part of Bonnet's " Palingenesia," 


which contains an " Examination of the Proofs of 
Christianity." In his zeal for religion, and actuated 
by an ardent desire that every friend he esteemed 
should believe the truths of Christianity, truths of such 
importance to their present and eternal happiness, 
he prefixed to bis translation a dedication to Moses 
Mendelsohn, the celebrated literary Jew of Berlin, in 
which he thus addressed him : — 

" I know your acute penetration, your steadfast love 
of truth, your incorruptible impartiality, your ardent 
esteem for philosophy, and the writings of Bonnet in 
particular; nor can I forget the liberality and mode- 
ration with which you judge of Christianity, notwith- 
standing you have not embraced that religion ; and 
the philosophical esteem, which in one of the happiest 
hours of my life, you expressed for the moral character 
of its founder. I am therefore encouraged to entreat 
and conjure you, in the presence of the God of truth, 
the Creator and Father of us both, not — to read this 
work with philosophical impartiality, for that I am 
certain you will, without any such request from me; 
— but publicly to controvert it, if you find the argu- 
ments by which the facts of Christianity are supported 
not conclusive ; or, if you find them just, to act as 
reason and the love of truth require, — as Socrates 
would have acted had he read this book and found it 

So public an appeal to Mendelsohn on a subject so 
delicate, gave the latter not a little uneasiness, as it 
placed him in a somewhat embarrassing situation with 
his friends of the Jewish religion. The adversaries of 


Lavater were loud in condemning the impropriety and 
rashness of the step he had taken, which, in fact, he 
himself afterwards regretted. Several letters passed 
between him and Mendelsohn on this subject, which 
were collected and published in a small pamphlet, in 
1770, under the title of" Letters of Moses Mendel- 
sohn and John Caspar Lavater." 

The answers of Mendelsohn are written with the 
greatest moderation and propriety. — " I am fully con- 
vinced," says he to Lavater, " that what you have done 
has proceeded from the purest source, and is to be 
ascribed to the most friendly and benevolent inten- 
tions ; but I cannot deny that there is nothing I should 
less have expected than such a public challenge from 
a man like Lavater. You recollect the confidential 
conversation which I had the pleasure to have with 
you in my study. — If I am not mistaken, assurances 
were given that no public use should ever be made of 
any words that might then be spoken ; but I would 
much x*ather suppose myself to be mistaken than that 
you have been guilty of a breach of promise. My 
unwillingness to engage in religious controversy pro- 
ceeds neither from fear or imbecility of character. I 
did not begin to seek my religion only yesterday. 
Had I not, after many years of inquiry, been fully 
determined in favour of my own religion, it must 
have become apparent by my public conduct; or were 
I indifferent to both religions, or a disbeliever of all 
revelation, I should know what prudence advises when 
conscience is silent — Of the truth of the essential 
doctrines of my religion 1 am as firmly convinced as 

LIFE OF J. C. LA'-'ATER. 1X111 

yourself or M. Bonnet can be ol yours. You ought 
not to have suppressed the conditional clause in that 
esteem for the moral character of the founder of your 
religion, which I expressed in the conversation that 
passed between us. 

" According to the principles of my religion, I shall 
not attempt to convert any person not born under our 
law. Moses has given us the law : it is an inheritance 
of the sons of Jacob. All the other nations of the earth 
are, as we believe, required by God to act comform- 
ably to the law of nature, and the religion of the 
patriarchs. Those who thus act we call virtuous men 
of other nations, and esteem them children of eternal 
salvation. I have the happiness to have for my'friends 
many excellent men who are not of my religion ; I 
enjoy the pleasure of their conversation, which im- 
proves and delights me. Never has my heart secretly 
exclaimed : — ' Mischief is reserved for ye, noble 
souls ! ' 

" Nothing but the earnest appeal of a Lavater 
could have induced me to make this open avowal of 
my sentiments, which I now do in order that silence 
may neither be considered as contempt or consent. 
M. Bonnet may probably have written only for such 
readers who, like himself, are convinced, and only 
read to confirm themselves in their faith. His in- 
ternal conviction and a laudable zeal for his religion 
have given a weight, in his opinion, to his demonstra- 
tions, which another may possibly not find in them." 

Lavater, before he received this letter, had heard 
from many of his friends, that the author of the work 


he had translated greatly disapproved of this dedi- 
cation, and considered it as an act of indiscretion 
towards Mendelsohn, which opinion was afterwards 
candidly avowed to him by Bonnet. This gave him 
much uneasiness ; though he was conscious that he 
had acted from the sincerest and best intentions. He, 
in consequence, wrote the following letter of apology 
to Mendelsohn : 

" Respected Sir, 

" I address you thus because I sincerely believe 
you deserving of respect. I have been induced by 
motives the most sincere and well-meaning to dedi- 
cate to*you my translation of the " Palingenesia" of 
Bonnet. The author of the work thinks that I have 
acted indiscreetly in what I have done. Many of my 
friends at Berlin are of the same opinion. If you 
think so likewise, be pleased only to intimate to me, 
or any friend of mine, in what manner I may make 
reparation for this indiscretion, though in fact, I can 
scarcely conceive it to be such. At any rate, I shall 
be satisfied if you will examine and maturely consider 
my conduct in this particular. 

" Forgive me — what? that I highly esteem and 
love you ? that I most ardently wish your happiness 
in this world and in that which is to come 1 — Forgive 
me, however, if I have chosen an improper mode of 
expressing this esteem, and this wish." 

While this letter was on its way to Berlin, Mr. 
Lavater received from Mendelsohn that from which 


we before gave an extract. In the answer which he 
immediately returned to it, he observes that he can- 
not entirely repent of what he had done, though so 
many of his friends, as well as the author of the work, 
had expressed their disapprobation of the dedication. 
" My intention," says he, " was not to force from you 
a confession of your faith ; but as I believed the cause 
of Christianity to be excellently defended by M. Bon- 
net, I entertained a hope that I should effect what I 
conceived to be of much more importance than the 
translation of the work, if I could induce you to 
undertake a careful examination of it. Your kind 
and liberal letter has confirmed the judgment of my 
friends, and fully convinced me that I was in the 
wrong. I therefore recall my unconditional challenge* 
in which I was not sufficiently justifiable, and thus pub 
licly request your pardon for my too great importunity, 
in which I was in the wrong, in my address to you. 

" It would give me the greatest uneasiness could I 
imagine that you suppress, merely from politeness 
and friendship, a suspicion that I have acted contrary 
to my promise ; or that you could allow the public to 
entertain the most distant surmise that, regardless of 
my promise, I had made such use of a private conversa- 
tion as must be prejudicial to you. I am, however, 
ready to admit, that when I mentioned the esteem you 
expressed for the moral character of the founder of my 
religion, I ought to have been more explicit, since it 
was limited by the condition — if he had not assumed 
to himself the honour of that adoration which is due 
only to Jehovah. 


" I consider the essential arguments, with respect 
to the proofs derived from facts, in favour of Chris- 
tianity, as incontrovertible. Yet must I declare, so 
much do I love the truth, that great as my attach- 
ment to my religion is, it would not prevent my leav- 
ing it, if I thought the falsehood of it demonstrated, 
or could be persuaded that the moral proofs, and 
proofs derived from facts, by which the divinity of 
the mission of Jesus is supported, have less logical 
value and force than those on which you found the 
divinity of the mission of Moses and the Prophets. 

" I can conceive, according to my ideas of Judaism, 
which I have formed from the revelation common to 
us both, that the Jewish religion and church aims 
not to be more widely extended than over the pos- 
terity of Israel; Christianity, on the contrary, from 
its nature, was designed to be a general religion, 
equally adapted to all nations. I, as a Christian, 
likewise believe — though in this many of my brethren 
do not agree with me to the same extent — that it is one 
of my most obligatory duties to extend the honour of 
my Lord and Master, and the truth of his religion, by 
every rational means, suitable to the nature of the 
thing, and to defend it from every hurtful prejudice. 

" Suffer me to declare, for the honour of truth, that 
I find in your writings sentiments which I more than 
honour, which have drawn tears from my eyes ; sen- 
timents which compel me, forgive my weakness, to 
renew the wish— would to God he were a Christian! 
Not that I in the least doubt that the Israelite, to whose 
sincerity the Omniscient must bear the same testimony 


which I have borne in my address, is as much regarded 
by him as the sincere Christian ; my Gospel teaches me 
ihat God is no respecter of persons, but that, in every 
nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, 
is accepted with him. 

" I shall conclude with expressing my conviction, 
which I consider as equally certain as delightful, that 
I shall find you, if not now, at least hereafter, among 
the happy adorers of him, whose inheritance is tne 
congregation of Jacob, my Lord and Master, Jesus 

This letter, which was intended for publication, 
Lavater accompanied with a private letter to Men- 
delsohn, in which he says — " I submit it to your jus- 
tice, whether you will leave the public still under the 
influence of that suspicion, so afflicting to my heart, 
which is conscious of its innocence, that I have been 
guilty of a violation of my promise, by the general 
mention I have made of a conversation which passed 
between us. I certainly thought that I could not add 
the condition on which you expressed your esteem for 
the founder of the Christian religion without a depar- 
ture from that promise." 

In a second letter written somewhat later, in con- 
sequence of a number of false and ridiculous stories 
which were then circulated relative to this affair, he 
admits that he gave the promise alluded to, but de- 
clares that he understood it in the sense, that he would 
not make any indiscreet discovery of any thing that 
might be said against Christianity in the course of the 
conversation. In this letter he likewise mentions an 


idle report, that he had written to some person, that 
could he but pass eleven days in perfect sanctity and 
continual prayer, he was fully convinced that he 
should obtain the conversion of Mendelsohn — " This," 
says he, " is too ridiculous to require contradiction. 
It is also reported that I have said, that I was 
anxiously concerned for the salvation of your soul- 
such a thought never entered my mind. We may be- 
lieve that there are superior and inferior degrees of 
beatitude, without supposing that there can be no 
salvation without the pale of the church." 

Mendelsohn concluded this correspondence by de- 
claring, in the most express manner, his full conviction 
of the sincerity, benevolent intentions, and friendly 
disposition of Lavater towards him — " His letters to 
me," says he, " exhibit, in my opinion, his moral 
character in the most advantageous light. We find in 
them the most indubitable proofs of true philanthropy 
and sincere religion : an ardent zeal for goodness and 
truth, an unbiassed integrity, and a modesty approach- 
ing to profound humility. It rejoices me extremely, 
that I had formed a true estimate of the worth of so 
noble a mind. It is an extreme excess of goodness 
and modesty in such a man as Lavater, publicly to ask 
my pardon — why should he? — I again as publicly 
declare that I have never considered myself as 
offended or injured by him. The importunity, as he 
himself terms it, which might be discommendable in 
his dedication, could only have proceeded from a too 
ardent and incautious love of truth, and must carry 
with it its own excuse." 


In the years 1770 and J 771, so great a dearth pre- 
vailed in Switzerland that many of the poor died of 
hunger, and all were reduced to the greatest distress. 
The charity of Lavater was on this occasion extremely 
active. Though not rich, as he derived but very little 
profit from his situation as preacher to the orphan- 
house, and almost the only income he could at that 
time call his own, was the produce of his publications, 
he yet gave away all he could possibly spare ; and by 
constantly enforcing in his sermons the duty of being 
charitable to the poor, and personally applying at the 
houses of the opulent to solicit alms for their relief, he 
obtained considerable sums to distribute, and hun- 
dreds had cause to bless his pious and indefatigable 

In 1770, Lavater wrote his " Reflections on Myself" 
— a " Collection of Spiritual Songs" — an " Ode to 
God" — and the "Christian Manual for Children," 
which was published in 1771. In the same year, he 
likewise transcribed his " Journal of a Self-Observer," 
which was afterwards published, without his know- 
ledge, by Zollikofer, making such alterations and 
additions as he judged requisite, and communicated 
it in manuscript to many of his friends. In 1771, he 
published a " Biographical Eulogium of Breitinger;" 
and in the same year again addressed the public on 
the subject of faith and prayer, and the miraculous 
gifts of the Holy Spirit. The " Three Questions," 
which he published about two years before, have 
already been mentioned. To these a variety of an- 
swers had appeared, in most of which, he tells us, 


instead of a precise answer to clear and precise ques- 
tions, he found only exclamations and declamations, 
sneers and ridicule, or sighs and lamentations over 
the consequences which such a doctrine might be ex- 
pected to produce. In those which condescended to 
reason on the subject, the principal argument insisted 
on was, that we must be guided by facts and expe- 
rience in our interpretation of the sense in which such 
passages of Scripture, as contain promises of miraculous 
powers, are to be understood. Lavater replied to these 
by publishing a kind of circular letter, in which he 
requested all his friends, and, in general, all inquirers 
after truth, to assist him by the communication of all 
such facts as had come to their knowledge, which 
might tend to prove that these scriptural promises 
extend to the present times. 

"We must examine," says he, " whether, after the 
death of the apostles, and of those who through them 
and during their lives had received the Holy Ghost or 
preternatural powers, there be any certain historical 
examples of effects of prayer, faith, and the gifts of 
the Holy Spirit, which are entirely or in part similar 
to the miraculous events related in the Gospel ; and 
whether it be credible that the numerous relations of 
this kind transmitted to us by so many fathers of the 
church, and other ecclesiastical writers, can all, without 
exception, be false. 

"You will render me a very grateful service if you 
will point out to me the most remarkable facts of this 
kind, or the historians who have recorded them; which 
you consider as certain or doubtful j and also if you 


would direct me to such writers as have treated this 
subject with impartiality. 

" I wish to ask all the friends of truth whether no 
positively certain or credible events are known to 
them, which have happened since the Reformation, 
and which are entirely or in part similar to those 
miraculous effects of prayer, faith, and the Holy Spirit, 
recorded in the Gospel ; events which have imme- 
diately followed prayer, or some positive exertion of 
faith, and which were not to be expected to take place 
in any natural manner ? I wish such facts however to 
be communicated with the requisite proofs, or at least 
with an intimation where I may find such proofs. 

" It is not of less importance to me to know, whether 
there be any incontrovertible example of a living pious 
and conscientious man, who will declare before the 
omniscient God — I have prayed, offering up my peti- 
tion, according to the precept of the Gospel, with un- 
doubting expectation that I should be heard, and I 
was not heard. God answered me not. 

" I shall add nothing with respect to the importance 
of this inquiry, the object of which is to ascertain, 
whether the sufferer, whom no human wisdom or 
power can relieve, may still, in the same manner as 
the first Christians, have recourse to the omnipotent 
power of Christ ; whether the Christian of the eigh- 
teenth century, as well as the Christian of the first, 
may attain to an immediate and visible communion 
with God through Christ ? Can there be an inquiry 
more important to the friend of humanity, who views 
around him so much dreadful misery ; or to the Chris- 


tian who every-where sees infidelity, and the empty, 
mere profession of Christianity triumph ? 

"The strictest impartiality and love of truth must 
be observed in this inquiry. I can conceive no crime 
more impious and shocking than, either from incre- 
dulity or attachment to a preconceived opinion, to 
deny or purposely to conceal a visible operation of the 
Deity, which must tend to the comfort of human kind 
— or from superstition, and attachment to opinion, 
falsely to ascribe to him such operations ; and affirm 
that God has done what he has not done." 

This public invitation was answered by many letters 
addressed to Mr. Lavater from various persons, and 
containing numerous wonderful anecdotes, with the 
proofs, or pretended proofs, of the extraordinary facts. 
He examined them all with an industry and careful- 
ness which can scarcely be conceived, except by those 
who were well acquainted with his character — " There 
is scarcely any proverbial expression," he would say 
to his friends, " which seems more liable to exceptions 
than that which asserts that we willingly believe 
what we incline to wish. With respect to myself, I 
know that in such cases I am more disposed to doubt, 
and examine with much more scrupulous attention." 
He was well convinced that most of the relations trans- 
mitted to him, neither bore the stamp of genuine 
simplicity, nor were supported by proofs in any man- 
lier satisfactory ; yet he impartially examined them 
all ; and this impartiality and serious examination fre- 
quently procured him much ridicule and censure, from 
those who were decidedly hostile to his opinions on 

LIFE OF J. C. LAVATER. lxxiii 

this subject ; while, at the same time, his rejection, 
after examination, of the claims of those who pre- 
tended to extraordinary gifts and powers was revenged 
by them with invective and insult. 

In the course of his inquiries into the proofs of facts 
of this nature, he became implicated in some transac- 
tions which at the time excited considerable attention, 
and occasioned many unmerited reflections on his 
credulity and conduct. 

A widow of the poorer class of people, named 
Catharine Kinderknecht, who. resided about a mile 
out of the town of Zurich, pretended to possess ex- 
traordinary gifts, and to have experienced, on many 
occasions, remarkable answers to her prayers. She 
was encouraged and supported by a young clergyman, 
who, knowing Lavater's peculiar opinions, applied to 
him, and represented the widow as a living instance 
that the power of faith promised to the sincere Chris 
tian had not ceased. Lavater was at first much im- 
pressed by the apparent piety, the fervency of manner, 
and the fluent discourse of this woman ; but he had 
doubts ; for she was either really too great an enthu- 
siast, or over-acted her part. She, however, found 
believers in her pretensions ; and, among others, some 
relations of the celebrated Fuseli, who had accompanied 
Lavater on his journey to Berlin. One of these had 
a complaint in his arm which baffled the skill of the 
surgeons he had employed ; and he was persuaded to 
have recourse to the prayers of Mrs. Kinderknecht. 
While she was praying, he thought it was impressed 
on his mind that he should pluck a cabbage leaf in 
e * 


his garden, and apply it to the diseased limb. He 
then opened the Bible several times, and, the third 
time, the passage presented itself in which Isaiah pre- 
scribes a plaster of figs for the recovery of Hezekiah. 
This encouraged him to apply the cabbage leaf, and it 
had, at least for the time, a salutary effect. Here was 
a miracle that could not be contested. Lavater, how- 
ever, was not satisfied ; and it was considered as very 
extraordinary, that he who was an avowed believer in 
the power of faith should entertain doubts in a case 
so evident. 

About the time of Lavater's first acquaintance with 
the widow, he had conceived the idea of building a 
small house, at a little distance from the town, as a 
place of retirement, when he wished to avoid interrup- 
tion. By the inducement of the young clergyman he 
began to build, but soon after desisted, and the house 
was finished by Mrs. Kinderknecht and her patron ; 
and here the clergyman preached, the prophetess 
prayed with ecstatic fervour, and congregations of won- 
dering auditors assembled, which continually increased. 
Though Lavater never went to these meetings, he was 
blamed by many as the author and encourager of the 
enthusiastic scenes acted at them ; and his enemies 
sneeringly called the house "Lavater's Miraculatorium." 

Lavater, who entirely disapproved of these proceed- 
ings, wrote a letter of reprehension, conceived in very 
strong terms, to the preacher, in which he declared his 
disbelief of the inspiration and superior gifts to which 
the widow pretended ; and as he found that Fuseli, 
though he had at first been led away by the enthu- 


siastic pretensions of these people, would listen to 
reason, he went with him to the preacher and the pro- 
phetess, by whom he was received with insult and 
abuse. The issue of the conference was that Fuseli, 
who confessed that his arm, with respect to a real 
cure, was still in the same diseased state, was greatly- 
detached from them, and afterwards entirely renounced 
all connexion with them. At length the consistory, 
at the suggestion of the magistrates, issued a prohibi- 
tion against any person, for the future, preaching or 
praying in the place where these meetings were held. 
The minister submitted to the authority and command 
of his superiors, and Lavater, by his mild and gentle 
behaviour towards him, and by the force of his argu- 
ments, at length induced him to renounce his enthu- 
siasm and error. 

An incident which a short time after happened to 
Lavater, and which, with respect to the facts, appears 
to admit of no doubt, contributed probably not a little 
to confirm him in his ideas of preternatural communi- 

In August, 1773, he made a journey to Richters- 
weile, to visit his friend Doctor Hotze. After his 
arrival there, he wrote to his wife that he was in per- 
fect health, and that no accident had happened. But 
the next day she was attacked with a remarkable low- 
ness of spirits, and a sudden impression on her mind, 
that her husband had either met with some dreadful 
misfortune, or was in the most imminent danger. She 
came down stairs from the room in which she was, and 
made known her anxiety and distress to her father-in- 


law ; who replied, that as she had received, only the 
preceding day, the fullest assurance of her husband's 
safety, under his own hand, she ought not to yield to 
such fancies, which certainly had no foundation in 
veality. This answer had for the moment a consolatory 
effect ; but no sooner had she returned to her chamber, 
than she felt herself again overpowered by the same 
melancholy ideas ; she threw herself on her knees, 
burst into tears, and, in an agony of distress, ear- 
nestly prayed for the safety of her husband, and his 
deliverance from any danger to which he might be 

At this very time Lavater was crossing the lake of 
Zurich, in a small vessel, to go from Richtersweile to 
Oberreid, to visit M. Daniker, a respectable minister 
who resided there, when so violent a storm arose that 
the masts and sails were carried away, and the sailors 
themselves despaired of being able to save the vessel. 
Lavater suffered all the terrors of approaching death, 
which appeared to be inevitable. With anxious affec- 
tion his thoughts recurred to his beloved wife and 
children, whom he feared he should never again behold 
in this world, while he prayed fervently to heaven for 
deliverance ; and was delivered, for the ship weathered 
the tempest, and all on board reached the shore in 

We shall here subjoin another anecdote, somewhat 
similar, relative to professor Sulzer, as related in a 
letter to a friend, by Mr. Lavater, who was always 
particularly attentive to such facts as he thought 
tended to prove immediate supernatural agency, the 


reality of presentiment, or powers in human nature 
unknown to, and unconceived by us. 

The professor told him, that in his twenty-second 
year, he was once suddenly attacked with an extraor- 
dinary melancholy and anxiety, without his being able 
to assign any cause for it from his own situation, with 
respect to any external circumstances. It seemed to 
be impressed on his mind, that his future wife at that 
moment suffered by some severe and dangerous ac- 
cident, though he then had neither any thought of 
marrying, nor any knowledge whatever of the person 
who afterwards became his wife. Ten years after, 
when he was married, and had almost forgotten this 
incident, he learned from his wife, that precisely at 
that time, when she was a girl of only ten years of 
age, she was nearly killed by a violent fall, from the 
injurious effects of which she had never entirely 

These extraordinary relations we give as we find 
them, and leave to our readers to form their own 
opinion of them, and choose, according to their several 
preconceived ideas, whether they will ascribe the facts 
they state to preternatural impulse, to some secret 
energies of our nature, or to a mere casual coincidence 
of events. That they were to be attributed to the 
latter, Lavater certainly did not believe. 

In the beginning of 1773, Mr. Lavater lost his 
mother, and the following year his father, soon after 
whose death he found his health in so impaired a state, 
that he made a journey to Ems, near Nassau, to make 
use of the baths at that place. In this journey he for 


the first time saw Gothe, whom he found at Frankfort, 
and who accompanied him to Ems ; he likewise formed 
a personal acquaintance with Basedow, and several 
other eminent men, respectable for their learning or 
their piety. 

The numerous opportunities he had of seeing and 
conversing with a great variety of persons, and ex- 
amining their characters and dispositions, were parti- 
cularly favourable to those physiognomonical inquiries 
to which he appears to have been addicted, in some 
degree, very early in life ; and which, from about the 
year 1770, to his death, he prosecuted with the 
greatest ardour, and even enthusiasm. His first pro- 
duction on this subject was a small work, printed at 
Leipsic ; in 1772, entitled, " John Caspar Lavater on 
Physiognomy." It contains the fundamental principles, 
and the substance of several of the essays, given in a 
more ample manner, in his great work, of which the 
first volume appeared in 1775, under the title of 
" Physiognomonical Fragments, for the Promotion of 
the Knowledge and Love of Mankind," and the fourth 
in 1778. 

On the publication of the first volume of this work, 
M. Zimmermann, the celebrated physician of Hanover, 
between whom and Lavater many communications had 
before passed on the subject of physiognomy, wrote 
him a congratulatory letter, in which he says — " Your 
penetration appears to me more than human ; many 
of your judgments are divinely true. No book ever 
made on me a more profound impression ; and I cer- 
tainly consider it as one of the greatest works of 


genius and morality that ever appeared. You may 
rely on my encouragement and support in every pos- 
sible manner. How happy am I in the friendship 
of Lavater !" 

With respect to the effect that Mr. Lavater's opinions 
concerning physiognomy had on his general conduct, 
the following passage from his life by M. Gessner, his 
son-in-law, who may be supposed to have had many 
opportunities of forming the judgment he has given, 
may not be unacceptable to the reader. 

" Whoever was intimately acquainted with Lavater 
must bear testimony with me, that his ideas on the 
subject of physiognomy tended only to enlarge his 
benevolence and philanthropy. A hundred times have 
I been witness, that on account of the advantageous 
dispositions of mind he perceived in the physiognomy 
of a person, and of which he discovered the decisive 
tokens in the firm parts of the countenance, he has 
entirely disregarded the very unfavourable appear- 
ances exhibited by the moveable parts of the same 
countenance. His esteem for great capacities and 
talents in the human mind, and his joy at discovering 
them were unbounded ; and he was always willing to 
overlook defects ; at least, he was very seldom heard 
to speak of them. 

" He relied very much on the first impression which 
the external appearance of any person made on him ; 
and he has often declared that this impression has 
much less frequently deceived him, than his subse- 
quent reasoning, when its force became weaker. — This 
kind of intuition certainly cannot be learned. I shall 


here give one of the many instances, with which I am 
acquainted, of the superior degree in which this in- 
tuition was possessed by Mr. Lavater. 

" A person to whom he was an entire stranger was 
once announced, and introduced to him as a visitor. 
The first idea that rose in his mind, the moment he 
saw him, was, ' This man is a murderer.' He, how- 
ever, suppressed the thought as unjustifiably severe 
and hasty, and conversed with the person with his 
accustomed civility. The cultivated understanding, 
extensive information, and ease of manner which he 
discovered in his visitor, inspired him with the highest 
respect for his intellectual endowments ; and his 
esteem for these, added to the benevolence and can- 
dour natural to him, induced him to disregard the 
unfavourable impression he had received from his first 
appearance with respect to his moral character. The 
next day he dined with him by invitation ; but soon 
after it was known that this accomplished gentleman 
was one of the assassins of the late king of Sweden ; 
and he found it advisable to leave the country as 
speedily as possible.' 1 

In the summer of the year 1777, Lavater received a 
visit from his friend Zollikofer, whom, on his return, 
he accompanied a part of the way. They took their 
road through Waldshut, where the emperor Joseph II. 
then was, who hearing that Lavater was in the town, 
sent for him, and held a conversation with him on the 
subject of physiognomy. Of this conversation, Lavater 
has himself given the following account. 

" It is impossible to describe the gracious manner 


in which the emperor advanced forwards to receive 
me. I must observe, that his countenance, and per- 
son, made a very different impression on me, from all 
the portraits and descriptions of him that I had met 
with, and the ideas I had formed of him from them. 
With the utmost condescension and affability, he said 
to me, with a smile : 

" ' Ah ! you are a dangerous man ! I do not know 
whether any one ought to suffer himself to be seen by 
you. You look into the hearts of men. We must be 
very cautious when we come into your company.' 

" ' With permission of your excellence,' answered I, 
' I will say there is no honest and good man who need 
to fear me, if I could really look as deep into the heart 
as some persons may imagine I can, which I am very far 
from being able to do. I consider it as my duty, and 
it is a pleasure to me, to notice rather what is good in 
my fellow-men than their failings. I am, besides, 
myself a sinful man, who would not always wish that 
others should see into my heart, and whom it very ill 
becomes to be too severe.' 

" The emperor appeared perfectly satisfied with my 
answer. He took me to a window which was open, 
and with an affable smile continued the conversation. 

" ' But can you tell me,' said he, ' how you came 
to conceive the idea of writing on such a subject ?' 

" I answered, that I had occasionally drawn por- 
traits, and had observed particularly striking resem- 
blances between corresponding parts and features of 
the- countenance of different persons; as, for.example, 
similar noses distinguished by particular aculeness. 

/ ' 


This very naturally led me to inquiries into the re- 
semblance that might be found in their character, 
dispositions, and intellectual powers, how different so- 
ever they might in general be ; and I found as evident 
resemblances in their minds as in the features of their 
countenances. Thus was I induced to inquire further, 
till gradually I arrived at the point where I now am. 

" The emperor then asked me concerning the an- 
cient authors, who had written on this subject, and 
what I thought of them. 

" 1 answered that I had read very few of them, but 
could perceive that the greater part had copied Aris- 
totle, and collected together a great many contra- 
dictory assertions. Many of them had treated the 
science rather with a view to prediction of future 
events than rational observation ; they had said and 
written more than they saw and felt. 

" ' And how,' said the emperor, ' have you treated 
the subject ? In what do you differ from your prede- 
cessors V 

" 'I believe,' said I, ' that I may assert, without in- 
curring the charge of self-sufficiency and arrogance, 
that, though I am infinitely deficient in what is indis- 
pensable to a good physiognomist, I have, in two 
respects, taken an entirely different course from all 
my predecessors who are known to me. I merely 
observe ; and assert nothing but from my own obser- 
vation. I have certainly affirmed much less than the 
old writers on the subject; but what I have said has 
been much more precise and defined; and in this 
science, accuracy and precision are of infinite impor- 


tance. The greatest confusion must be introduced 
into physiognomy, and the science be exposed to the 
utmost contempt, if those who treat of it express 
themselves in vague and general terms, and give 
the same name to dissimilar features, only on account 
of a general and remote resemblance. Thus, for 
example, the old authors say generally : High fore- 
heads, and large foreheads, betoken a feeble and 
slothful man. We certainly find feeble and slothful 
men, with large and high foreheads; but all large and 
high foreheads, are not signs of feebleness and sloth. 
Let us recollect Julius Cassar. There are such fore- 
heads, which accompany extraordinary penetration, 
and activity. Such erroneous judgments, can only be 
avoided, by the most accurate precision. My endea- 
vours have, therefore, been directed to define the 
peculiarities of each part of the countenance, as accu- 
rately as possible, both by delineation and descriptive 
terms. I likewise believe that I may claim an opi- 
nion of my own, or that I have taken a separate and 
little beaten track, since I have employed my attention 
more on the firm, defined, and definable parts of the 
human physiognomy, than on the moveable, momen- 
tary, and accidental. The greater part of physiog- 
nomists speak only of the passions, or rather of the 
exterior signs of the passions, and the expression of 
them in the muscles. But these exterior signs are 
only transient circumstances which are easily disco- 
verable. It has, therefore, always been much more 
my object to consider the general and fundamental 
character of the man, from which, according to the 


state of his exterior circumstances and relations, all 
his passions arise as from a root. I direct my obser- 
vation more to the basis, and fundamental capability 
of the man, to the measure of his activity, and pas- 
siveness ; to his capability to receive, and his power 
in general ; and the expressions of these, I find partly 
in single features, in the terminations and outlines of 
the forehead, the nose, the skull, or the bones; and 
partly in the consonance and harmonic combination 
of these parts in one whole. Much more difficult to 
recognise, but, at the same time, much more certain 
and decisive, are the expressions of the powers of the 
mind, of the actual and possible activity, and irrita- 
bility of the man, which are manifested in the counte- 
nance at rest.' 

" The emperor listened to me with much attention. 
He seemed to reflect on what I had said, and as it 
appeared to me, with some surprise. He for an in- 
stant turned, with a gracious smile, towards the open 
window, so that I had, for the first time, a profile view 
of him. I principally directed my attention to the 
eyes and nose. This moment of observation, when he 
did not look at me, was to me particularly valuable. 

" ' I can readily admit,' said the emperor, ' that 
much of the power of a man's mind, of his disposi- 
tion, temperament, and passions, may be discovered 

from his countenance ; but integrity and sincerity ■ 

Oh ! these are very difficult to discover by the fea- 
tures ! With respect to these you must be extremely 
careful and attentive. There is too much dissimula- 
tion in the world.' 


" ' There certainly is much,' answered I, 'and, un- 
doubtedly probity is much more difficult to discover 
than understanding, wit, courage, and temperament. 
We may assign many outlines and traits of which we 
can say with certainty, Where these appear in a coun- 
tenance, there is much understanding. But it is not 
thus with respect to probity. Notwithstanding this, 
there are certain measures of power, wisdom, and 
goodness, which may be combined in such just pro- 
portion, that integrity must almost necessarily be the 
result. Now each of these ingredients, which com- 
pose integrity, has its appropriate signs, and their 
harmonizing may be expressed by the harmony of the 
features. A great portion of goodness, benevolence, 
and firmness, which form the basis of probity and in- 
tegrity, cannot easily be mistaken in a countenance.' 

" ' Do you not find,' said the emperor, who made, 
several judicious objections, and heard my answers 
with attention ; ' do you not find, that character in 
the female sex is much more difficult to ascertain, 
and, in fact, that there is much less of peculiar cha- 
racter in that sex than in the male V 

" ' In certain respects,' replied I, ' I must answer 
in the affirmative; but in others in the negative.' 

" He smiled sarcastically, and with the significant 
air of a man of experience — ' Women' said he, ' are 
governed by men, and apt at imitation. They have 
no character of their own, and assume any that they 
choose. Their character is that of the man whom, for 
the time, they wish to please. They perhaps meet 
with one who is serious, sedate, and prudent, and 


who in some particular or other pleases them — imme- 
diately they are sedate and serious — soon after ano- 
ther comes, who is gay and lively ; and as they have 
not attracted the notice of the former, they now become 
lively and gay, merely to please their new associate. 
What then is their character? Who can ascertain 
their disposition from their countenance ? The phy- 
siognomist may study then a long time, and when he 
thinks he has obtained certainty, on a sudden they 
are totally changed.' 

" ' I admit,' answered I, ' that these remarks of 
your excellence are, in general, well founded, and that 
it is, to a certain degree, undoubtedly true, that wo- 
men are what they are only through men ; or, rather, 
that they assume, in the presence of men, the cha- 
racter which they think most proper to be assumed; 
yet at the same time there are certain firm, unchange- 
able, undisguiseable features, tokens of the internal 
basis of their character, in which the physiognomist 
will not easily be deceived. It indeed cannot be de- 
nied, that as their physiognomy is less bony, less 
projecting, less strongly delineated, it is not so easily 
to be defined, as that of strongly-formed, firm-boned 
men. But if we always, in the first place, direct our 
attention to the sum of receptibility and power, and 
the basis of their character, to the grand outline and 
form of the countenance, we shall not greatly err. It 
can never be sufficiently repeated, that there is so 
much in every human countenance that is independent 
of all the arts of dissimulation, that we ought not 
to fear those arts. Only the moveable features are 

LIFE OF J. C. IAVATKR. lxxxvii 

within the influence of dissimulation ; the real coun 
tenance, or the basis of those features, is beyond its 

" ' But consider,' said the emperor, ' should you 
be able to assign precise principles, and your obser- 
vation become a certain and attainable science, what 
a revolution you must produce in the world. All 
men would view each other with very different eyes.' 

" ' I confess,' replied I, ' that my head frequently 
turns giddy, only at the thought of all the changes 
which physiognomy might produce in the mass of the 
human race — but it will produce no such changes.' " 

The account given by Mr. Lavater of his conversa- 
tion with the emperor Joseph, contains some other 
particulars of less importance ; but the above extract, 
as it serves to elucidate his ideas and opinions on the 
subject of physiognomy, will no doubt be most accept- 
able to the reader. 

The sentiments of Lavater on the subject of phy- 
siognomy have frequently been misrepresented, with 
a view to render him ridiculous, or from si ill baser 
motives ; and even judgments on portraits have been 
ascribed to him, which he never gave. About the 
year 1783, some time after his great work on physiog- 
nomy had been translated into Dutch, he received a 
letter from the Hague, informing him that a very 
unwarrantable liberty had been taken with his name 
by a shameless libeller, who had asserted, in some 
fugitive publication, that the silhouette, or shade of a 
respectable person, who held a public employment of 
importance, had been sent to him, and that he gave on 

lxxxviii MEMOIRS OF THE 

it the following judgment—" Lorsque j'envisageois la 
tete que vous m'avez envoyee, je demeurai pour un 
moment muet d'etonnement de voir ^idevant mes yeux 
l'ambition telle que je me l'a suis tousjours representee 
sous une forme humaine — la hardiesse, l'esprit de 
sedition, la despotisme me frapperent comme autant 
de coups de foudre, lances contre le genre humain par 
ce monstre. La vengeance, le trahison, l'emeute, viola 
ce que sa bouche semble exhaler."* 

"Whoever," said Lavater, in his answer to this 
letter, " is in the least acquainted with me, either per- 
sonally or by my writings, must know that a judgment 
so severe, malignant, and so entirely destitute of all 
love for human nature, could never proceed from my 
heart, my lips, or my pen; and that I avoid and 
abhor every thing that can cause or promote dissension 
and enmity. But to those who have no knowledge of 
me, I must calmly and solemnly declare, before the 
Omniscient who shall judge me, that the opinion in 
question was not given by me, either in whole or in 
part ; either immediately or mediately, but has been 
imprudently ascribed to me with a total disregard to 
all morality and all truth." 

It appeared to be of the more importance to insert 
the above anecdote, as the reader may possiblv recol- 

* When I looked on the head which you have sent to me, I remained 
for some moments mute with astonishment, at seeing thus before my 
eyes ambition, such as I have always represented it to myself, under a 
human form — audacity, the spirit of sedition and despotism, transfixed 
me like so many thunderbolts launched against the human race by this 
monster. His mouth seemed to exhale vengeance, treason, and popular 

LIFE OF J. C. LAVATER. lxxxix 

lect other opinions reported to have been given by 
Lavater on the portraits of distinguished persons, 
which there is every reason to believe are equally 
destitute of foundation. 

Before we quit the subject of Mr. Lavater's phy- 
siognomonical opinions and writings, it will be proper 
to notice the work, of which a translation is presented 
to the public in these volumes.* We shall, therefore, 
subjoin the account of the publication of this edition 
as it stands in the " Life of Lavater," by Mr. Gessner, 
his son-in-law, who may be supposed to have been well 
acquainted with the real opinions of a person so nearly 
related to him on this, as well as other subjects ; and 
as it may serve for a sufficient answer to some remarks 
which have been made relative to it, and in which 
even the character of Mr. Armbruster, the editor, has 
not been spared. "In 1783, Mr. Armbruster, at the 
instance of Mr Lavater, prepared and published an 
octavo edition of the great work on physiognomy, re- 
duced to a smaller form; but with respect to whatever 
is essential, a complete and perfect work. This edi- 
tion Mr. Lavater himself very carefully revised, which 
revision is certified under his own hand at the end 
of the volume ; it is illustrated with a great number 
of plates ; and it was Mr. Lavater's avowed opinion 
that this work, which is sold for nearly the tenth 
part of the price of the large edition, contains com- 
pletely all that is essential in the latter."| 

* Formerly comprised in three volumes royal octavo, price four guineas, 
from which the present edition is printed. 

t Johann Kaspar Lavaters Lebensbeschreibung von seinesm Tochter- 
mann Georg Gessner. Vol. II. p. 334. 


In the year 1772, Lavater published his " Sermons 
on the History of Joseph." which, even in the opinion 
of those who were not accustomed to judge very 
favourably of him and his works, had distinguished 
merit. In the following year appeared his " Sermons 
for Festival Days ;" and between 1773 and 1777, 
several single sermons, among others one entitled, 
" The Unparalleled Criminal, and his Fate :" which 
latter he preached, in consequence of the following- 
very extraordinary incident. 

On the 13th of September, 1776, a prayer day was 
observed at Zurich, on which occasion the sacrament 
is always administered. When the wine was pre- 
sented to the communicants, many of them observed 
that it appeared very thick and dirty. Several did 
not taste it, but those who did were soon after taken 
extremely ill. This, as may be supposed, excited the 
greatest alarm ; some physicians and chemists, who 
were directed to examine the cans and cups, declared 
that poison had actually been mixed with the wine. 
The strictest inquiries were made to discover the 
author of so horrid a deed, but in vain ; the persons 
who had the care of the church were all found to be 
innocent. The • magistrates omitted no means that 
might lead to the detection of the perpetrators of an 
act of such enormity. It was recommended to the 
ministers of the different churches to make this atro- 
cious deed the subject of their sermons ; and Lavater 
inveighed with all that ardour and zeal which might 
be expected from him, against this unparalleled cri- 
minal, who however was never discovered, and per- 


haps never existed; for it became afterwards an 
almost general opinion, that all that had happened 
was merely to be attributed to carelessness and un- 

In 1775, Mr. Lavater was chosen pastor, or first 
preacher, to the orphan-house, where he was deacon 
or second preacher; and, in 1778, deacon of the 
church of St. Peter in Zurich, of which he was after- 
wards (in 1786) unanimously chosen pastor on the 
death of his colleague, M. Freytag. 

In the summer of 1778, in a journey which he 
made to Augsburg, he for the first time had a per- 
sonal interview with Gassner, a catholic priest, who 
some years before had greatly excited his attention, 
and furnished the subject of several letters, which 
passed between him and various persons, by some 
extraordinary cures he was said to have wrought by 
prayer, and a kind of religious exorcism. These in- 
quiries of Lavater afforded his enemies an opportu- 
nity to charge him with credulity and superstition. 
But as he always avowed his belief, that extraor- 
dinary powers would accompany, and preternatural 
effects be produced by, an extraordinary degree of 
faith, he could not be censured for a candid and im- 
partial inquiry into accounts, the truth of which was 
vouched to him by persons in whose understanding 
and integrity he believed that he might confide. The 
apparent strength of this evidence will appear from 
the following facts. 

About the end of August, 1774, Doctor Hotze, of 
luchtersweil, communicated to his friend Lavater a 


letter which he had received from Doctor Harscher, at 
Constance, which contained this account of Gassner — 
" Joseph Gassner, a man of much piety, humility, 
and virtue, had in his youth studied medicine at In- 
spruck ; he afterwards became a secular priest ; he 
was at this time attacked with severe pains in the 
head, as often as he read mass. He had recourse to 
the advice of the ablest physicians, but without ob- 
taining any relief. In the mean time he frequently 
read books that treated on the subject of exorcism, and 
made the first trial on himself. From that moment 
his pains in the head left him, and he then prayed 
to God that he would bestow on him the power of 
extending the same aid to his fellow-men. I laughed 
at all this when I first heard it, and thought it an old 
woman's tale. The bishop sent for him to Morspurg, 
where were two sisters from Munsterlingen, extremely 
ill ; these he healed in the name of Jesus, and they 
are restored to perfect health. I come here several 
times in a week, but could not be convinced till I had 
myself twice spoken to the father. I behold won- 
derful and powerful cures, far exceeding our art — 
his expression is, { I conjure thee in the most Holy 
Name of Jesus ;' and then follow effects which over- 
whelm me with awe." 

This relation will no doubt appear to the reader not 
a little extravagant; but Lavater, whose particular 
opinions predisposed him to receive it favourably, at 
least to examine impartially into the facts stated in it, 
reasoned thus — " This letter" (these are his own 
words) " comes to me from a person who has always 


been represented to me as a man of understanding 
and integrity ; from Hotze, from a physician who saw 
both these women in their diseased state, and when 
restored to health ; who has himself conversed with 
Gassner, and witnessed, as he says, the wonders he 
has wrought. The progress of his faith is related in 
tli is letter, in a manner that, admitting it to be true, 
cannot be more natural. He suffers pains, he seeks 
aid from men, and finds it not ; he reads, as might be 
expected from a catholic priest, books on the subject 
of exorcism ; the idea occurs to him that his sudden, 
painful, and incurable head-ache, attacking him only 
at certain times, may be the buffeting of Satan, and 
he has recourse to the means, which to a Christian, a 
catholic, and a priest, must be the most natural — to 
the power of the name of Jesus as a protection against 
his malady. He makes trial of this power, and his 
malady leaves him ; he wishes to extend the benefit 
of this power to other sufferers ; he prays to God, and 
receives that for which he prayed. Can any more 
natural, just, and Christian progress of faith and love 
be imagined than this?" 

Lavater made all the inquiries in his power to satisfy 
himself whether the facts stated in this letter were 
true or false, or the deceptions of an impostor. He 
entered into a correspondence with Hotze, as also with 
the physicians Harscher, and Ehrhard of Memmingen, 
who averred that they had witnessed similar cures — 
" Our patients," said they, " have been healed by 
Gassner ; we saw them, are convinced they were sick, 
and are now in perfect health. We can, if you re- 


quest it, send you numerous, well-attested cases of 
contractions and epilepsies, which have been cured by 
him, and in which the patient has never suffered a re- 
lapse." — The celebrated Zimmermann, of Hanover, 
communicated to him a letter from M. Wolter, privy 
counsellor and personal physician to the elector of 
Bavaria. From this letter the following is an extract. 

" I send you the account, which I have drawn up 
for their Serene Highnesses, of the effects produced by 
the priest Gassner on my own daughter, the baroness 
of Erdt, which, as you observe, I could not have 
believed, had I not seen them with my eyes, and, as 
I may say, touched them with my hands. Of these 
truly extraordinary facts ; with respect at least to their 
historical certainty, I am perfectly assured ; though in 
what manner they are to be explained, I am still 
doubtful, and must defer my judgment. I presented 
to Gassner my daughter, a woman of understanding 
and resolution, who was troubled with rheumatic 
pains in her head. He made her kneel before him, 
and having placed his hands on her forehead and the 
back part of her head, repeated some prayers in a low 
voice, after which he directed her to stand up, and 
began his exorcisms in this manner — " I command 
thee in the name of Jesus to fall into frenzy and con- 
vulsion of the head, without any other part of thy 
body being affected ; at the same moment nature 
obeyed, and the patient uttered the most frantic ex- 
pressions ; but at the instant he pronounced the words 

' Let it cease' — she immediately was restored to her 
natural state, without recollecting any thing of what 


had passed. He repeated similar and various com- 
mands, and, at length, laid his hands on her head, 
prayed, and gave her the blessing, and she is now free 
from the slightest trace of her disorder, from which, 
before, she almost continually suffered, in a greater 
or less degree." — M. Wolter afterwards adduces a 
number of similar facts, of which he had been an eye 
witness, and mentions the cases of forty-two persons 
of his acquaintance, who had received relief from 
Gassner. — " My opinion," says he, at the conclusion 
of his letter, " and my answer to the objections of all 
unbelievers is — go and see." 

Lavater, however, whatever his wishes might be 
to find confirmed, by incontestible facts, an opinion 
which he had openly avowed, and which had pro- 
cured him much ridicule and harsh animadversion, 
appears still to have entertained many doubts. He 
wrote to Doctor Wolter, inquiring whether he had 
observed any appearance of cunning or trick in 
Gassner; whether the extraordinary ceremonies he 
used did not seem rather of the nature of the latter 
than merely intended to strengthen the faith of the 
patient and of the bystanders. He likewise wrote to 
Doctor Semler, who was an avowed infidel with 
respect to powers of this kind, requesting that he 
would make inquiries. "Your unsuspected integrity," 
says he, " your great learning, the proofs you have 
given of an accurate understanding, and especially 
the frankness with which you deliver your opinion, 
have inspired me with the highest esteem for you, 
notwithstanding there are many things which I dis- 


approve in your writings. Whether the facts attri- 
buted to Gassner be true or false, you will admit, I 
am persuaded, that it is of the greatest importance 
to make inquiry concerning them. I wish to commit 
to you this inquiry. These miracles, if they are true, 
must be capable of abiding the examination of a man 
who has publicly disputed the reality of possessions 
by the devil. I can confide in your penetration to 
discover deceit and imposture, if any exist in this 
case, and in your integrity to declare the truth, if 
you are convinced of it, even though this truth shall 
prove that you have long embraced and defended 
error. You will, perhaps, say, it is credulity on my 
part to suppose these relations may be true, or that I 
would endeavour to circulate them, from a fondness 
for my own opinion concerning the universality of 
the efficacy of faith and prayer. But the numerous 
attestations of eye and ear-witnesses, which now lie 
before me, must sufficiently vindicate me from the 
charge of credulity. And how can I act with more 
propriety than by committing this inquiry, with the 
numerous notices which I daily receive, to the exami- 
nation of a man who, on this subject, thinks so dif- 
ferently from myself; to a philosopher who is the 
professed antagonist of demonology. Were not truth 
alone my object, I should not thus make a reference 
to the judgment of an adversary who, in my opinion, 
has shown that he entertains the most deep-rooted 
prejudices against all such appearances." 

Semler was much gratified by the confidential ap- 
plication of Lavater. In his answer he did not deny 


the facts, though at the same time he did not hesitate 
to declare, that he believed that they were to be 
explained by natural causes, or that some deceit would 
be found in them. " Such deceit," answered Lavater, 
in a second letter, " must be most diabolical, or we 
have here the power of God in earthen vessels. Here 
is the evangelical power of faith, so far as the testi- 
mony of eye witnesses, and of the persons on whom 
the cures were wrought, is to be regarded." The 
letters which passed between Lavater and Semler on 
this subject, were published in 1776, under the title, 
" A Collection of Letters and Extracts, relative to the 
Exorcisms of Gassner, with Remarks by Semler." 

In 1778, as has been before observed, Lavater had 
an interview with Gassner, in which he frankly con- 
fessed that he had made no favourable impression on 
his understanding or his heart. He witnessed none 
of his cures, exorcisms, nor any extraordinary effects 
produced by him. He admitted that he believed him 
to be sincere, according to his ideas and doctrine, but 
he found him destitute of spirit and feeling. This 
opinion he did not hesitate to avow to all his friends, 
and it became more public than he had, perhaps, 
wished. He, in consequence, soon after, received a 
letter from Gassner, complaining of the harsh judg- 
ment he had passed on him. To this letter Lavater 
returned an answer, the following extract from which 
will serve to elucidate his real opinion on this subject. 

" Though during my stay with you I had not the 
good fortune to witness any decisive proofs of your 
sumrnum imperium in nervos (powerful influence on 


the nerves) — if you will not take offence at. this ex- 
pression, which I cursorily, and without any ill inten- 
tion, made use of to a philosophical physician — I was 
yet satisfactorily convinced of your sincerity and in- 
tegrity. Your system appears to me, as I have not 
hesitated publicly to declare, perfectly consonant with 
itself; and among all the hypotheses offered to explain 
the effects produced, I consider yours as the most 
probable, viz. — that all transient evils proceed from 
Satan, or, at least, are under his immediate influence. 
Far be it from me to deny the existence and the fearful 
action of the kingdom of Satan : to deny this, would, 
in my opinion, be to deny the divinity of the holy 
scriptures. — What I consider as agreeable to the scrip- 
tures, I believe to be true ; and what I believe to be 
true, I avow on every occasion, though I know that I 
shall be ridiculed for it as a fanatic and an enthusiast. 
I must, at the same time, as freely declare that, how- 
ever probable your manner of explanation appears to 
me, I can consider it only as an hypothesis. 

" Admitting that 1 may have said or written to a 
person accustomed to philosophical inquiry — ' Gass- 
ner is a simple monk,' — this expression, 
it is connected with all that I have besides said and 
written, will only signify — ' Do not suspect any de- 
ceit in Gassner ; any cunningly-devised plan. You 
will find him too simple a man to be capable of acting 
an assumed part.' — I will likewise not deny, that, 
though I believe you to be pious and sincere, I did 
not find in you that superior degree of piety, and of 
the spirit of Christianity, which I expected from a 


man of your power ; though, I am sincerely con- 
vinced your piety may put mine to shame. — It is not 
possible, however, to overcome my doubts. — Tell me, 
therefore, what I shall do to obviate the ill impression 
which my misunderstood judgment concerning you — 
made public without my knowledge, and against my 
wish — may in any manner occasion to the disadvantage 
of truth. If you think proper to communicate this letter 
to any person, you are at full liberty so to do ; and 
if you can doubt my sincerity, I am willing to submit 
my heart, my opinion and conduct, with respect to 
you, to the examination of the whole world. 1 know 
that I do not shun the truth." 

The following passage of the journal of Lavater, 
written after he had seen Gassner, may still further 
explain his opinion on this subject, and is very ex- 
pressive of his peculiar ideas in general. 

" Though," says he, speaking of Gassner, " I saw 
no effects produced by him, similar to those of which 
I had heard and read so much, and which it is impos- 
sible should be mere fictions, I am almost as much 
disposed to believe in the possibility of this power of 
actum, of man upon man, as if I had myself been an 
eye-witness of every thing that is asserted to have 
been done ; and I think I am authorized to conjecture, 
that this power which resides in all men, as the image 
of God, is a magical power of the mind over the 
bodies and powers of the corporeal world, which may 
continually become more perfect, and by faith in the 
humanity of Christ, be advanced and matured to the 
highest and most perfect power." 


It will not, perhaps, excite surprise, after what has 
been said of the avowed opinion of Lavater on the 
subject of miraculous powers, and his correspondence 
with Gassner, that reports were circulated, that he 
was secretly a catholic, and that he and his whole 
family had formally, though privately, gone over to 
the catholic communion. — In fact, many pious catho- 
lics, whose friendship he greatly esteemed, believing 
him to be well-disposed towards their religion, in 
some points of importance, exerted all their powers 
of persuasion to complete his conversion ; and he re- 
ceived many letters, inviting him to enter the pale of 
that church, from which the writers conceived him 
not to be very far removed. Not only his declared 
belief, that the power of working miracles must con- 
tinue in the church, encouraged this idea ; but it was 
even supposed, though certainly very absurdly, that 
his physiognomonical inquiries, andhis disquisitions, 
in his large work on that subject, on the form and 
features given by painters to Christ — whom he con- 
ceived must have the most perfect human form, as the 
expression of his internal virtues and powers — had 
disposed him to the reverence of images, or at least 
to an admission of their utility. But Lavater, in 
reality, held opinions very different from those of the 
catholic church, with regard to several of the most 
essential doctrines of the latter, particularly that of 
the sacrament ; to which should, perhaps, be added 
his extensive charity towards all other Christians, 
however they might differ from him with respect to 
creeds and ceremonies. — Yet this same charity, by 


permitting him to cultivate the most intimate and 
friendly connexions with many respectable and learned 
men of the catholic church, furnished one of the 
grounds of suspicion, that he was himself a secret 

We have seen above, that Lavater was inclined to 
attribute the extraordinary cures, said to have been 
performed by Gassner, rather to natural than to divine 
and preternatural powers. He certainly was at all 
times much disposed to believe in occult and secret 
energies of nature, and eagerly inquired into all cases 
of this kind of which he received any accounts, and 
with respect to which he appears sometimes to have 
been too liable to imposition. To this is to be attri- 
buted the favourable opinion he expressed of the 
celebrated impostor Cagliostro, of which his enemies 
took advantage to report that there was a connexion 
between them. — In June 1783, on a journey which he 
made with his son to Ofenbach, he met with Cagliostro 
at Strasburgh, and so much was said of the interviews 
he had with him, that he found it necessary, in justifi- 
cation of himself, to give some account to his friends 
of his conferences with him, and his opinion of him, 
in which we shall find the same frank and undisguised 
avowal of what he really thought, which distinguished 
and reflected honour on Lavater on every occasion. 

"I have seen this man," says he, " three or four 
times ; I have consulted him on the cases of some sick 
persons, and passed with him some few hours, for the 
most part in company with other persons, and not 
more than a single hour with him alone. He has 


communicated to me his theory of certain occult 
sciences, as* they are called. I have observed him as 
carefully as possible ; put to him questions which were 
not answered, and received from him promises which 
were not fulfilled. Since that time we have been 
perfect strangers to each other ; never was there the 
least kind of intimacy or particular connexion between 
us : this my friends may securely assert on every oc- 
casion. — No persons could hold opinions more dia- 
metrically opposite to each other than he and I, on 
many subjects which I esteem most essential and most 
sacred. We had once a very violent altercation in 
consequence of my contradicting him, and declaring 
my doubts of some of his positions, which I thought 
I ought not to admit. So long as he retains his fore- 
head and I have mine, we shall never, here below, be 
confidential friends ; how frequently soever the most 
credulous of all the credulous may represent us as 
closely connected. Notwithstanding this declaration, 
far be it from me, in compliance with the self-suffi- 
cient and hastily-judging genius of the age, to con- 
ceal that I have to thank him for various important 
services ; and that — partly on account of his confor- 
mation, and partly in consequence of the faith which 
one of my most discerning and sincere friends declared, 
with praiseworthy constancy, even during his mis- 
fortunes, that he reposed in him — I consider him as 
a man in comparison with whom hundreds who ridicule 
him without having seen him, appear to be mere chil- 
dren. I believe that nature produces a form like his 
only once in a century, and I could weep blood to 


think that so rare a production of nature should, by 
the many objections he has furnished against himself, 
be partly so much misconceived ; and, partly, by so 
many harshnesses and crudities, have given just cause 
for offence. Yet truth will continue truth how much 
soever it may be sneered at or reviled by the above- 
mentioned genius of the age ; and I declare it is the 
truth, that he cured, among others, at my instance, 
with indescribable exertion and attention, the wife of 
my friend, of a malady till then incurable, and which 
to form an idea of must have been seen — ' Inscitiae 
commenta delet dies ; veritatis judicia confirmat.'"* 

In the summer of 1783, many persons of the first 
distinction visited Lavater at Zurich, induced by the 
celebrity he had acquired by his writings, and the 
high esteem in which he was held by all who knew 
him for his unaffected piety and active benevolence. 
Among these were the Prince and Princess of Dessau ; 
the Margrave of Baden, with the Hereditary Prince 
and Princess ; the Duke of Wurtemberg ; the Prince 
and Princess of Rohan ; the Countess of Stolberg, 
and the Countess Julia Reventlow. To these illus- 
trious visitors he behaved with the respect which their 
rank claimed, but at the same time with a frankness 
and sincerity very distant from that obsequiowsness 
and flattery which is incompatible with the character 
of a Christian. In 1785, he likewise received a visit 
from Count Reuss, who, with his lady, remained with 
him at Zurich several days, after which they proceeded 

* Time destroys the pretensions of ignorance, but confirms the truth 


by way of Lucerne to Geneva, to which city, on their 
invitation, Lavater accompanied them. 

At Geneva he first became acquainted with what 
is called Animal Magnetism, which began about that 
time to excite general attention. It may readily be 
supposed that Lavater made the extraordinary effects, 
said to be produced by this new art, the object of his 
industrious inquiry. The testimonies produced of the 
reality of these effects, appeared to him sufficient to 
demand his belief; and he acquired sufficient skill in 
the art to make a trial of its efficacy for the removal 
of some complaints* with which Mrs. Lavater had for 
a long time been affected, and which he conceived to 
be of a nature particularly suitable to be acted upon 
by this new mode of treatment. He found, we are 
told, all the appearances follow which he had been 
taught to expect, and such success removed every 
doubt with respect to the general principle. His 
opinion on this subject will, however, be given with 
most propriety in his own words, as contained in some 
letters written by him to different persons about that 

" I do not," says he, " believe in the whole system 
of Mesmer, though I do not permit myself hastily, and 
without examination, to condemn a man to whom 
Providence appears to have intrusted a secret of na- 
ture. I do not, I repeat, believe in his whole system ; 
but I believe what I have been assured of by the most 
respectable witnesses, and what I have repeatedly seen 
with my own eyes. My brother, a very intelligent 
physician, who has the rare gift of uniting in himself 


two qualities, each of which are extremely rare, that 
of being able strongly to doubt, and that of firmly 
believing, has a hundred times seen with his own 
eyes, what any other person may every day see, that 
there is a power in man which, by a certain kind of 
motion, may pass into others, and produce the most 
striking and determinate effects. I believe that many 
persons of delicate sensibility, especially when they 
surfer from nervous complaints, may, by that opera- 
tion which, I know not with what propriety, is called 
magnetization, be thrown into a divinatory sleep, in 
which, according to the frame of their organization, 
their character, and their circumstances in life, they 
may have much more just perceptions than they could 
have had waking, and frequently discern and indicate 
with the most punctual accuracy, things which have 
relation to themselves, and the circumstances of their 
health. I cannot be more convinced that I exist, 
than that I have, by this operation, relieved, in the 
most evident manner, the bodily infirmities of my 
wife ; and that, on any new attack, I am able to afford 
her the same relief. Whether the world ridicule or 
pity my weakness, its pity or its ridicule will not have 
the least effect on me : I know what I know, and see 
what I see, whether what I affirm be believed or 
not. I disregard whether it be imagination or reality. 
If by imagination I am restored to health, I will prefer 
that beneficial imagination to the reality which renders 
me again diseased." 

" One word more with respect to magnetism ; I 
g * 


consider it as a method of cure easily to be profaned, 
sometimes very dangerous, at all times difficult of 
application, not to be applied without medical caution, 
by no means universal in its effects, and which has 
been too much extolled by some, and too much 
degraded and decried by others." 

The sentiments on this subject, which Lavater ex 
pressed in conversation and letters to different persons, 
excited the surprise of many of his friends, and drew 
on him from them some remonstrances, and cautions 
against too great credulity ; but whenever, in the 
course of his inquiries, he imagined that he met with 
facts that demanded his assent, nothing could restrain 
him from frankly declaring the impression they made 
on him, and exhibiting his ideas and his heart without 

In 1782, the Grand Duke of Russia (afterwards the 
Emperor Paul I.) with his consort, the Grand Duchess, 
being at Mompelgard, came to Zurich to see Lavater. 
They sent for him, and he remained some hours in their 
company, during which the conversation principally 
turned on physiognomy. He afterwards accompanied 
them to the celebrated fall of the Rhine at Schaff- 
hausen, and experienced from his illustrious visitors 
the utmost attention and condescension. 

Between the years 1782 and 1786, he published his 
" Jesus Messias, or the Gospel History, and the His- 
tory of the Apostles, in Cantos," a poem in four 
volumes, which appeared successively; and between 
1782 and 1785, his " Pontius Pilate, or the Bible in 



miniature, and man at full length," in four volumes, 
likewise published successively. This latter produc- 
tion he appears to have considered as containing the 
most exact transcript of his character and sentiments. 
" It is," he says, " so written as to procure itself 
many violent enemies, and few ardent friends. It is 
the exact impression of my mind and heart, and is, as 
it were, my other self. He that hates this book must 
hate me, and he that loves this book must love me. 
He who can only half approve it, can only half ap- 
prove my mind and heart , he whom it entirely pleases, 
must be my sincere and ardent friend." 

About the same time, or somewhat earlier, his 
" Sermons on the Existence and Power of the Devil," 
made their appearance, but without his knowledge or 
consent, and he was much displeased at the manner 
in which they were given to the public. His enemies 
found in them matter for new animadversions on his 
opinions and enthusiasm. 

In 1785, he published a series of " Sermons on the 
Epistle of Paul to Philemon ;" as also a small work, 
entitled " Solomon, or the Lessons of Wisdom," which 
he dedicated to the Hereditary Prince Frederic -of 
Anhalt Dessau. In the following year appeared his 
" Nathaniel, or the Divinity of Christianity, certain as 
indemonstrable ; for Nathaniels, that is, for those who 
possess the sincere, tranquil, guileless sense of truth." 
The title of this work again furnished his adversaries 
with a pretext for clamour and censure, on account 
of the expression indemonstrable divinity of Chris- 


tianity ; but his meaning evidently was, that it did 
not require demonstration, or that it was incapable 
of demonstration, because self-evident, like a mathe- 
matical axiom. 

In the year 1787, Prince Edward of England (now 
the Duke of Kent) passing through Zurich, made a 
visit to Lavater, and in the interview he had with him, 
expressed the wish of his royal mother, our illustrious 
and amiable Queen, to possess something in his hand- 
writing. Lavater complied with the request with which 
he was honoured, by writing some reflections, which 
he entitled; " A Word on the Human Heart." and 
which gave him the first idea of his poem, " The 
Human Heart," which he printed in 1790, and styles, 
in the preface, the favourite child of his heart. 

In 1787, he published his " Miscellaneous Unphy- 
siognomonical Rules, for the Knowledge of Ourselves 
and Man in general;" and in 1790, his "Manual 
Library for Friends ;" of which, during four successive 
years, he published annually six volumes in duode- 
cimo, and in the first of these inserted the above- 
mentioned poem, " The Human Heart." 

In 1793, he made a journey to Copenhagen, in 
compliance with an invitation from the late Danish 
Minister, Count Bernstorf, who had offered to present 
him with the expenses of his journey, that he might 
have an opportunity to converse with a person whose 
writings he admired, and of whose sincerity and piety 
he was perfectly convinced. Lavater accepted the 
invitation, and set out for Copenhagen, accompanied 


by his son and eldest daughter. In the course of his 
journey he had interviews with many learned and re- 
ligious men with whom he was before only acquainted 
by epistolary correspondence; and when he arrived 
at the Capital of Denmark, or rather at Bernsdorf, the 
seat of the minister, he found himself, as he assures 
us, equally delighted and edified with the profound 
sense, the sincere love of truth, and unaffected piety 
of that great statesman, who retired as often as pos- 
sible from the tumult of public business — which he 
conducted with the purest views to the good of his 
country, superior at once both to ambitious and to 
sordid motives — to devote his time to meditation on 
the great truths of Christianity, the practice of its 
important duties, and the enjoyment of domestic 
happiness with his amiable lady. The Hereditary 
Prince of Denmark and his illustrious consort, like- 
wise, honoured our traveller, during his stay in 
Copenhagen, with many marks of their attention and 

On his return to Switzerland, he published an ac- 
count of his journey, but, as the title imported, 
" only for friends," of which, however, the first part 
only appeared. This journal, probably by some sin- 
gularities from which his writings were seldom entirely 
free, afforded an opportunity to his . adversaries to 
exercise their talents for ridicule in a kind of satirical 
parody on it, entitled, a "Journey to Fritzlar." 

We are now arrived at that period of the life of 
Lavater, when his love of his country shone as con- 


spicuous as his sincere piety and active benevolence 
had before been displayed on every occasion. The 
French revolution at its commencement excited in 
him the warmest sentiments of approbation ; he ima- 
gined that he saw in it the energies of the human 
mind burst forth with new and indescribable energy. 
He exulted in the idea that a great nation had shaken 
off the shackles of slavery, and asserted the dignity 
of human nature. His friends, many of them, smiled 
at his enthusiasm, and ventured to predict that nume- 
rous evils, as yet unforeseen, would but too soon 
prove the consequences of so hasty and ill-digested 
a reformation. — Pfenninger, his colleague as assistant 
preacher to the congregation of St. Peter's, was 
among the foremost of those whose fears were jus- 
tified by the event ; but Lavater, judging of mankind 
by his own conscious integrity, could not be induced 
to suspect evil till he beheld it in effects no longer to 
be denied. 

But when the leaders of the popular frenzy pro- 
ceeded to insult and degrade the monarch, and to 
disregard equally every principle of morality and 
religion, Lavater, faithful to his genuine principles, 
stood forth the champion of rational government, and 
Christianity. In a sermon preached by him on the 
28th of October, 1 792, he thus exclaimed : 

" O France ! France ! example without example, 
dost thou not warn us, dost thou not teach us to what 
a state of brutal degradation a nation sinks, which, 
imagining itself to have attained the summit of illu- 


mination, makes its sport of oaths, conscience and re- 
ligion ? 

" O France ! France ! banish all thy priests, destroy 
or sell thy temples, change thy Christian festivals into 
empty spectacles, and thy holy altars into altars of 
liberty ; consider whether the word providence shall 
any longer be tolerated, and preach from thy few re- 
maining pulpits the religion of the Epicureans — ' let 
us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die ;' — and then 
let us see what will be thy ultimate fate. Oh ! let us 
open our eyes while it is yet in our power to open 
them ; and let irreligion, the parent of every thing- 
abominable, be to us an abomination. Let religion, 
which produces good order, and happiness, and virtue, 
and whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, be to us 
sacred. Every evil is the offspring of irreligion ; and 
all that is salutary and beneficial, of religion. Oh ! 
may the purest religion live in us, surfer in us, work 
in us !" 

During all the commotions which distracted Swit- 
zerland, till it finally sunk under the power of the 
French, Lavater expressed his sentiments with equal 
sincerity and freedom ; and when the invaders of his 
country exercised their remorseless rapacity on the 
oppressed Swiss, he alone had the courage to remon- 
strate against their extortion. In May, 1798, when 
Switzerland was in fact subjugated by the French 
arms, and ravaged without mercy by the mercenary 
generals and officers of the republic, he wrote, and 
transmitted to the director Rewbel, his " Word of a 


tree Switzer to the Great Nation," which, when it 
became public, drew the attention and applause of all 
Europe to the courage and integrity of the writer. 
The following extracts from this address will show 
the honest boldness with which he could write to the 
formidable despots of those times, though he well 
knew his personal liberty, and even his life, was in 
their power : 

"It is a law engraven in the breast of every man, 
as ancient as the world, and as sacred as humanity 
itself — ' What thou wilt not that others should do 
unto thee, that do not thou unto them.' — No power 
can annihilate this law. A hundred thousand armed 
men cannot make that just which is unjust. France 
has no right, but the tyrannical right of the strongest, 
to enter Switzerland, as she says, to overthrow the 
aristocracy. That the aristocracy is overthrown, may 
be a great happiness, and may fulfil the wishes of 
many honest and worthy persons ; but when a high- 
way-robber murders a man who is an oppressor, is 
he on that account less a robber ? The French en- 
tered Switzerland as robbers and tyrants ; they made 
war against a country which had never done them 
injury. As robbers they seized treasures to which 
they could invent no claim. They deprived Helvetia 
of all its real strength ; and when they, as they said, 
made it free, took from it every means of maintaining 
its liberty." 

The whole is in a similar strain, and he thus con- 
cludes : 


"Great nation, which bast not thy equal, render 
not thyself contemptible to all posterity ; make re- 
compense for the enormous acts of injustice thou hast 
committed ; be no longer the scourge of nations, the 
tyrant over mankind, the enslaver of the free ; be no 
longer the oppressor of Helvetia, the ravager of Zurich ; 
be what thou wouldest be thought, the deliverer, 
the benefactress, the friend — and then queen of our 

The directory published an answer to this address, 
to which Lavater replied ; but as if over-awed by his 
courage in the just cause of his injured country, they 
did not proceed to take revenge by any attack on his 

On the second of April of the following year, the 
French, continuing to exercise the arbitrary power 
they had usurped in Switzerland, by means of the 
directory and authorities they had set up, seized on 
ten of the most respectable citizens of Zurich, and 
ordered that they should be deported, or banished from 
the city, on an alleged suspicion that they maintained 
a correspondence with the Emperor. On this occa- 
sion, Lavater exhibited the same courage and real 
patriotism, and remonstrated with- those in power 
against this flagrant violation of the new constitution 
they had so lately established — " The directory," said 
he, in a conference he had with the Statthalter of 
Zurich, citizen Pfenninger, " has no power in any case 
arbitrarily to set aside the constitution. To disregard 
precise and fundamental laws is the beginning, the 


middle, and end of all despotism. Why is not an 
examination, a trial allowed? this is required by the 
constitution. Such conduct is an irretrievable attack 
on general security, which ought to be the great 
object of every government." 

On the following Sunday he addressed his congre- 
gation on the circumstances of the times, preaching 
from Romans xiii. 1 — 4. " Let every soul be subject 
to the higher powers," &c. " Can any thing be ima- 
gined," said he, towards the conclusion of his sermon, 
" more shameful and degrading to a government, more 
dishonourable to the names of justice and liberty, than 
that the innocent should be treated like the guilty ; 
the righteous like the wicked ; those who honour and 
submit to the powers in authority over them, like 
those who rise up in rebellion against them ? When 
those who do good must fear because they do good, 
who will not shudder, who will not exclaim, — Ac- 
cursed be that policy which will do evil that good 
may come of it." 

He now expected every day to share the fate of 
those whose cause he had ventured with so much 
boldness to defend ; but he was left entirely unmo- 
lested till about the middle of May, when, in conse- 
quence of the increase of the rheumatic complaints, 
under which he had long laboured, he was advised by 
his physicians to try the efficacy of the warm baths at 
Baden ; to which place he accordingly repaired. On 
the second day after his arrival there, three municipal 
officers entered his apartment early in the morning, 


and informed him that they were directed, and autho- 
rized to seize and seal up all his papers, and to convey 
him to Basle, where he was to remain during the 
pleasure of the Helvetic directory. His house at 
Zurich was searched, and the private letters he had 
received from his friends, and the copies of those he 
had written to them, which could be found, taken 
away at the same time. Lavater submitted, and calmly 
requested the emissaries of government to fulfil their 
commission. He, however, wrote at the same time a 
spirited letter to the Helvetic directory, demanding an 
immediate hearing, and if found innocent, which he 
was conscious he must be were justice regarded, to 
be permitted to return to his family and congregation. 
His boldness, and the esteem in which he was univer- 
sally held, probably induced the directory to comply 
with his request, and the next day after his arrival at 
Basle, he was admitted to a hearing. It appeared from 
the questions put to him, that a letter to one of his 
friends that had been intercepted, and which contained 
some expressions, which not being understood by the 
examiners, were considered as furnishing grounds of 
suspicion that he was engaged in some intrigue with 
their enemies, had been the principal cause of his 
arrest. He was asked, who the person was, concern- 
ing whom he inquired of his friend, of what nation he 
was, and where he would first open his shop, and take 
up his residence ? 

Lavater replied, that this expression had reference 
to a theological subject ; viz. the coming of antichrist, 


of whom his friend had written in a preceding letter, 
that he believed he would soon appear. 

In this letter there was also the following pas- 
sage : — 

"lam very sorry for what you say of I. K. L., but 
it is very probably the truth." He was, therefore, 
asked what the letters I. K. L. signified ? 

" Those letters," answered he, " are the initials of 
my name, — John Kaspar Lavater; my friend had 
written to me that I should suffer persecution, though 
it would not be of long duration ; and that it was to 
no purpose I expressed myself with such freedom 
against certain abuses." 

In the same letter, he had likewise said — " the 
Empress of Russia owes a hundred new louis d'ors 
to a certain friend. The communication by post is 
now at an end through Germany, and he wishes to 
know whether you can give him any advice how to 
obviate this embarrassment." 

This passage, as may be supposed, was considered 
as extremely suspicious. Lavater, however, explained 
it, by declaring that he himself was the friend alluded 
to : that a part of his Physiognomonical Cabinet had 
been purchased by the Empress of Russia, who was 
to remit him for it a hundred louis d'ors, and he only 
meant to inquire in what manner he might receive the 

This explanation might not, perhaps, have removed 
the suspicions of his judges, had it not been that 
about the same time, a letter addressed to him by 


Baron Nicolai, the private secretary to the Empress 
of Russia, had been intercepted, which being candidly 
referred to by the Statthalter, was found to confirm the 
statement of Lavater, in so satisfactory a manner, that 
no doubt of its truth could be entertained. 

The hearing was, however, adjourned, and was not 
continued, or rather he was not examined a second 
time, till about a week afterwards. At this examina- 
tion, he was informed, that as he said, when before 
questioned relative to a certain person referred to in 
his letter, that he meant by him antichrist, he was 
now required to say what he understood by anti- 
christ ? 

To this question Lavater replied : — " I have long 
understood, as the writings I have published will 
show, by antichrist, an openly daring, most irreligious 
despot, who will raise himself by political and magical 
power to be universal monarch of the world, and 
tyrant over the consciences of men ; who will tread 
under foot all justice, truth, morality, and religion ; 
and who will, especially, persecute in the most cruel 
manner, all who honour the name of Christ." 

He was then asked whether he considered the ap- 
pearance of antichrist as near, or still at a distance ? 

To this he answered with that frankness and cou- 
rage which procured him the respect even of his 
enemies, " I believe it to be very near, and I believe 
that I see the forerunner of antichrist in the irreli- 
gious sentiments and acts of the French nation. Never 
since the foundation of Christianity has any Christian 


nation acted so notoriously contrary to the principles 
of Christianity. This, however, is only my own pri- 
vate opinion, in which, perhaps, I may be mistaken, 
but for which I do not conceive myself responsible to 
any earthly judge." 

He was then told, that it appeared to the directory, 
from some passages in his correspondence with his 
friend., that he wished the downfall of their authority ; 
and he was asked how he justified such a wish. 

He boldly replied, " I will ingenuously declare what 
I think on this subject. I wish with my whole heart, 
that all those members of the (Helvetic) directory, 
whom I have reason to believe the authors of the 
terrorist and unconstitutional measures that have been 
adopted, may be removed from authority in some 
manner, so it be not by violence, unless they totally 
change their sentiments and principles. Every ra- 
tional patriot must wish that a judge who determines 
arbitrarily, despotically, and without regard to the 
laws, and who tears from their families a hundred 
innocent fathers and husbands, may no longer remain 
a judge." 

After this examination, Mr. Lavater remained under 
arrest till the 10th of June, when, after he had passed 
a very uneasy night, in consequence of a violent attack 
of his cough, the Statthalter entered his apartment in 
the morning, saying : " I bring you here something to 
cure your cough," — and immediately produced an 
order from the directory to set him at liberty. But 
notwithstanding this release, it was more than two 


months before he could return to Zurich, the French 
generals refusing to grant him a pass. He applied to 
General Massena, who though, as he says, he received 
him with all the politeness of a Frenchman, told him 
it was impossible for him to grant his request, unless 
he acted contrary to all the rules of war. At length 
having obtained a pass to go a short distance, he 
eluded the vigilance of the out-posts, and arrived safe 
at Zurich, which was then in the hands of the Aus- 
trians. He was received with the utmost attention 
and politeness by the Austrian officers, who had been 
informed by General Hotze, that his arrival might be 
expected, and directed to permit him to pass through 
the army without obstruction. 

Soon after his return, his royal highness the Arch- 
duke Charles, who had for a few hours his head- 
quarters at Zurich, being desirous to see so celebrated 
a man, sent Colonel Blonquet to him to invite him 
to his quarters. Some of the French, and their par- 
tisans, did not fail to express the meanest suspicions 
of the purposes of this interview ; but a moment's 
consideration might have convinced them, that as 
Mr. Lavater had not the least knowledge of the posi- 
tion or designs of the French army, or its generals, 
he could not, were he so disposed, betray them to the 

On the 26th of September, 1799, Zurich was taken 
a second time by the French. The Austrians fought 
with great obstinacy during the whole of the 25th, 
and the morning of the 26th, but about noon they 


were obliged to retire, and the French entered the city, 
which had the good fortune to be neither set on fire or 
plundered by either the retreating or victorious army. 
But not only Zurich, but the whole country, and the 
cause of religion, justice, and virtue, sustained a very 
real misfortune in the accident which happened to 
Lavater, who, on this day, received the wound, which 
at length occasioned his death. The following is an 
abstract of the circumstances attending this unfor- 
tunate event, as related by Lavater himself, in a 
written account, dated Sunday, Sept. 29, 1799. 

After the French had entered Zurich as conquerors, 
many of the soldiers rambled in small parties, or 
singly, about the town. Two of these came to the 
door of a house, in which only two females resided, 
in the open place, near the church of St. Peter, con- 
tiguous to the residence of Lavater, and began to cry 
" Wine ! wine ! this is a public house !" — at the same 
time beating the door with the but-ends of their mus 
kets, to burst it open. Lavater looked out of his 
window, and said to them : '-' Be quiet, and I will 
bring you wine." He accordingly carried them some, 
with some bread, and even offered them money, which, 
however, they would not accept. Being thus pacified, 
they went away, thanking him for his generosity. One 
of them especially, a grenadier, expressed his grati- 
tude, and the friendship he had conceived for him, in 
the warmest terms. Lavater then returned into his 
house, where hu wife accosted him with — " What, has 
my Daniel come safe out of the lion's den !" -He then 


sent a person to see whether the streets were suffici- 
ently clear for him to go to the house of one of his 
children, to inquire after the safety of the family, 
which he had been prevented from doing by the num- 
ber of troops passing through the city. — While he 
stood at his door, waiting the return of his messenger, 
a little meagre French soldier came up to him, and 
told him in broken German, that he had been taken 
prisoner by the Russians, and that he had no shirt. 
Lavater answered, that he had no shirt to give him, 
but at the same time took out of his pocket some 
small money, which he offered him. The fellow looked 
at it contemptuously, and said, " I must have a whole 
dollar for a shirt." Lavater then offered him a few 
more small pieces, but he still insisted that he must 
have a dollar, and drew his sabre to enforce his de- 
mand. The other soldiers, to whom Lavatei had given 
wine, and who had parted from him in so friendly a 
manner, were standing at a little distance, and he 
called to them for protection against the violence of 
this man. They came to him, but, to his great sur- 
prise, the very man who two minutes before had 
refused money when he had offered it to him, now 
joined in the demand of his comrade, and putting his 
bayonet to his breast, cried out. more fiercely than the 
other — "Give us money." Lavater, and some person 
who stood near him, put aside the bayonet, and another 
person, at that time a stranger to him, threw his arm 
round him, and drew him back. At the same moment 
the grenadier fired, and the ball passed through the 

h * 


arm of the stranger, and wounded Lavater below the 
breast. He bled profusely, and when his wound was 
examined, it was found that the ball had entered on 
the right side, and passed out at the distance of about 
four inches on the left, a little above the ribs, having 
approached extremely near to parts, which, had it 
pierced, it must have proved instantly fatal. 

By the care and judicious treatment of the surgeons 
who attended him, his wound soon exhibited very 
favourable symptoms, and appeared to be in a satis- 
factory progress of cure. In a few days he was ablS 
to sit up in his bed and write ; for his active and in- 
defatigable mind could never desist from its labours, 
while it was possible to prosecute them. In this 
manner he composed, while confined to his bed, 
several exhortations addressed to his church, which 
were read to the congregation from the pulpit by 
kis assistant colleague. He also wrote, while thus 
confined, and frequently suffering severe pain, his 
patriotic letters on the practice of deportation, which 
he dedicated to the members of the executive council, 
as likewise a very spirited remonstrance to the Hel- 
vetic directory. 

About the middle of December, his wound appeared 
to be healed ; he left his room and his chamber, and 
again returned to his pulpit, from which he had been 
detained nearly three months. He continued to preach 
till about the end of January, 1800, when his pains re- 
turned more severely than before. His surgeons and 
physicians were by no means wanting in their care and 


attention; but they were unable to discover with cer- 
tainty the cause of this relapse, and his pains con- 
tinued to increase. In the mean time, he laboured as 
assiduously as the state of his health would permit 
him in writing a second volume of his letters, on the 
subject of deportation. He also published a book of 
prayers, to which he prefixed an essay on the nature 
and duty of prayer. 

In the beginning of May, he was advised to try the 
baths of Baden and Schinznach, and he, in conse- 
quence, went thither, but returned to Zurich in about 
a month, without having experienced any great relief 
from the use of them. During his stay at Baden, he 
applied himself to the completion of his Physiogno- 
monical Cabinet; that is, he wrote judgments on 
several figures and portraits which he had collected. 
He also, while at Baden and Schinznach, wrote a little 
work, entitled, " Private Letters of Saul and Paul, 
edited by Nathalion a sacra rupe," the latter words 
being an anagram of the name Lavater. The manner 
of publication imported, that these were genuine 
letters of St. Paul, written before and after nis con- 
version, to some friends in Damascus; but whoever 
was acquainted with the style of Lavater must soon 
perceive that he was the author. 

On his return from Baden, about the middle of 
June, as it was judged less suitable for him to reside 
in the city, the handsome villa of General Salis, at 
Erlenbach, on the lake of Zurich, about a league and 
a half from the town, being then unoccupied, was 


offered him for his residence, and he gratefully ac- 
cepted the offer. He was delighted with the natural 
beauties of the place; and styles it in some of the 
letters he wrote at that time, the " Paradise Erlen- 
bach." Yet, here, he still continued to write and 
dictate with incessant industry, and here he began a 
work, which he called his " Swan's Song, or the Last 
Thoughts of a Departing Christian on Jesus of Naza- 
reth." On this work he was occasionally employed, 
till within about a month of his death, until he was 
unable either to guide the pen himself, or dictate to 

In the beginning of September, a prayer-day being 
observed in his church at Zurich, as was an annual 
custom, he caused himself to be carried thither, 
though very feeble and in great pain of body, and 
after the sermon, before the sacrament was admi- 
nistered, addressed his congregation in a pious and 
pathetic exhortation, which was the last he delivered 
to them, and to which they listened with most pro- 
found attention, and indescribable emotion. 

From this time he continued gradually to become 
more feeble, and to be attacked with longer and more 
severe fits of pain, which were sometimes so violent 
that he could not forbear uttering loud cries, often for 
several minutes, or even a quarter of an hour at a time. 
Yet, in the midst of his agonies, his cries and groans 
were accompanied with prayers for the man by whom 
he had been wounded, that he might never suffer the 
pains he had caused him to endure. In the intervals 


between these fits, he still continued, with the most 
indefatigable assiduity, his labours for the good of 
others, and was incessantly employed in writing or 
dictating. When waked in the night by his pains, or 
when from any other cause he could not sleep, he 
would desire the person who sat up with him, to read 
to him the New Testament, or to write such thoughts 
as occurred to him, that not a moment might be lost. 
Among the last of his labours, two letters which he 
wrote to Count Stolberg, with whom he had long 
maintained a friendly correspondence, and who, about 
that time, had publicly professed himself a convert to 
the Catholic religion, deserve particular notice, on 
account of the liberal charity which he manifests on 
the one hand, and the firmness with which he de- 
clares on the other, that he himself can never believe 
that church infallible, or call her a merciful mother, 
which can condemn to the flames her erring children. 
Yet some of his Catholic friends still entertained 
hopes that he would, at the last, consent to be received 
into the bosom of their church, from which they con- 
ceived him, on account of some of his peculiar opi- 
nions, to be not very far removed, and made some 
earnest but fruitless attempts to persuade him to com- 
ply with their wishes. 

About a fortnight before his death, he finished his 
last literary production, which was a poem, written 
with great spirit, entitled, " Zurich, at the beginning ot 
the Nineteenth Century." On the last of December, in 
the evening, he was so exhausted, and his voice had 


become so feeble, that what he said could only be 
heard by applying the ear to his lips; yet even in 
this condition he expressed a wish to dictate some 
lines, which his colleague might read to his congrega- 
tion on the morning of the new year's day. In com- 
pliance with his request, his son-in-law, M. Gessner, 
listened and took them from his lips, and his daugh- 
ter Louisa, wrote them down. They consisted of 
seven lines (German Hexameters) suitable to the 
occasion, and breathing that spirit of piety which had 
animated him through life. On the next day, in the 
evening, he appeared much more composed, was freer 
from pain, and slept soundly ; but it was soon evident 
that this alteration was only introductory to the great 
crisis of nature, and on the ensuing day, Friday, 
January 2, 1801, about three o'clock in the afternoon, 
he expired. 

Of the character of this extraordinary man, different 
persons may perhaps judge differently; but it is 
scarcely possible that any should refuse him the praise 
of genius, indefatigable industry, integrity, and ge- 
nuine piety. — " Lavater," says Professor Meiners, in 
his letter on Switzerland, "is one of the few men, 
whom I have been acquainted with, who is little soli- 
citous to conceal his faults, and still less anxious to 
make his merits known. With regard to his moral 
character, it is impossible to speak too highly of it ; his 
very opponents, those at least with whom I am ac- 
quainted, allow that his life and manners are blameless. 
A warm desire to advance the honour of God, and the 


good of his fellow-creatures, is without doubt the prin- 
cipal feature in his character, and the leading motive 
of all he does. — Next to this, his characteristic virtues 
are an exemplary mildness and placability, and an 
inexhaustible love for his enemies. — I have often heard 
him speak of the talents, merits, and good qualities of 
his opponents, with the same warmth as if he had been 
talking of the virtues of his greatest friends; of his own 
merits he speaks with the greatest and most unaffected 
modesty. Every thing in him announces the man of 
genius. He speaks quickly, and appears greatly in- 
terested in all he says ; but is never heated, nor does 
his action transgress the bounds of moderation. He 
bears contradiction with great patience, and calmly 
answers any objections which are made to what he ad- 
vances. Though his learning is not very profound, 
his conversation is rendered extremely interesting, by 
his great natural powers, and that extensive know- 
ledge of human nature, which he has acquired by his 
early and constantly increasing connexion with men 
of all ranks and orders. When we consider the variety 
of business in which he is almost constantly immersed, 
it cannot but appear extremely surprising how he can 
find so much time to write, and we shall be readily 
disposed to admit, what he asserts is the case, that 
his writing is only a relaxation from his other em 

Lavater may, no doubt, be charged in some in- 
stances with credulity, and with too readily yielding to 
the natural ardour of his imagination, which occasion- 


ally hurried him into what men of cooler dispositions 
will call enthusiasm ; but few who read his writings, 
and none who were intimately acquainted with him, 
will hesitate to acknowledge that these very venial 
failings were much more than counterbalanced by nu- 
merous great and valuable dualities, both of the mind 
and of the heart. 




And God said 

" Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." 1 

" How wondrous the suspense of expecting creation ! 

" The regions of earth, air, and water, swarm with living 
beings. All is plenitude : all is animation : all is motion. — 
What is the great purpose that this multitude of creatures 
contribute to effect ? — Where is the unity of this grand whole ? 
— Each being still remains solitary. The pleasures of each 
terminate in self. Where is that something capable of con- 
ceiving, where that comprehensive eye that can include, that 
capacious heart that can rejoice in, this grand whole? — 
Creation wanting a purpose appears to mourn ; to enjoy, but 
not to be enjoyed — A desert in all its wild confusion. — The 
pulse of nature beats not ! 

" Were it possible to produce a being which should oe the 
head, the summit, and unity of all ! — Were this possible ; such 
a being must be the symbol of the Deity ; the visible image of 
God. Himself a subordinate deity ; a ruler, and a lord — How 
noble a creature ! 

" The Godhead holds council ! — 

" Hitherto the powers of recent creation slumber — such a 
form, such a symbol of Deity, must be infinitely more beautiful, 
must contain infinitely more life, than the rivers, woods, and 



mountains, or than paradise itself. — Yes, inevitably must, es- 
sentially, exceed all other forms animate and inanimate. — To 
him must thought be imparted, that generative, that predo- 
minant gift of the Divinity.— How graceful his body ! How 
dignified his action ! How sublime the glance of his eye ! How 
insignificant are all the objects of nature compared to the 
human soul ! — How vast its reasoning, its inventive, and its 
ruling faculties ! — Yes, it is the visible image of the Deity ! 

" The Godhead has taken counsel ! — 

" God created man in his own image ; in the tmage of 
God created he him. Male and female created he them." 

" How might man be more honoured than by such a pause ? 
How more deified than by the counsel of the Godhead, than 
by thus being impressed with the divine image ! 

" God created man in his own image, in the image of 
god created he him." 

" How exaltedly, how exclusively honourable to man ! 

" Contemplate his exterior ; erect, towering and beauteous 
— This, though but the shell, is the image of his mind ; the 
veil and agent of that divinity of which he is the repre- 
sentative. How does the present though concealed Deity 
speak, in his human countenance, with a thousand tongues ! 
How does he reveal himself by an eternal variety of im- 
pulse, emotion, and action, as in a magical mirror ! Is there 
not something inconceivably celestial in the eye of man, in 
the combination of his features, in his elevated mien ? Thus 
is that effusion of radiance which the sun emits, and which no 
eye might endure, obscured by dewy vapours, and thus the 
Godhead darkly portrays itself in a rude earthly form. 

" God of perfection ! How supremely, how benevolently 
hast thou displayed thyself in man ! — Behold the human 
body ! that fair investiture of all that is most beauteous ! — 
Unity in variety ! Variety in unity ! How are they there 
displayed in their very essence ! — What elegance, what pro- 
priety, what symmetry through all the forms, all the mem- 
bers ! How imperceptible, how infinite, are the gradations 
that constitute this beauteous whole ! 

" Survey this soul-beaming, this divine countenance ; the 


thoughtful brow, the penetrating eye, the spirit-breathing 
lips, the deep intelligence of the assembled features ! How 
they all conspiring speak ! What harmony ! — A single ray 
including all possible colours ! The picture of the fair im- 
measurable mind within ! 

"God created man in his own image; in the image of 
God created he him. Male and female created he them. 1 ' 1 

" And there he stands in all his divinity ! The likeness of 
God ! The type of God and nature ! The compendium of all 
action ; of the power and energy of the Creator ! Study him. 
Sketch his figure, though it be but as the sun painted in a 
dew-drop — All your heroes and deities, whatever their origin, 
form, or symbolic qualities (disjecti membra poetee), the most 
perfect ideal angel that Plato or Winkehnann ever could ima- 
gine, or that the waving lines of Apelles or Raphael could 
portray : the Venus Anadyomene, and Apollo, to him are far 
unequal. These to him compared are disproportionate as 
shadows lengthened by the setting sun. In vain would artists 
and poets, like the industrious bee, collect the visible riches, 
products, and powers of luxuriant nature. Man, the image of 
God, the essence of creation, exuberant in the principles of 
motion and intelligence, and formed according to the council 
of the Godhead, ever must remain the standard of ideal per- 

" Man — sacred yet polluted image of the Most High, 
enfeebled and depraved epitome of the creation ; the temple 
in which, and to which, the Go Ihead deigned to reveal himself, 
first personally, afterwards by his miracles and prophets, and 
lastly by his beloved son — " The brightness of the glory of 
God : the only and first-born ; through whom and by whom 
the world was created — the second Adam ! — Oh man ! what 
wert thou intended to be ! What art thou become !""* 

Were the sublime truihs contained in this passage ever 
present to my mind, ever living in my memory, what might 
not be expected from the book I should write ? And the 
moment I forget them, how insupportable shall I become to 

* Herders AUente Urkunde des Menschen Geschlecht.s J. TJieil 


thee — to thee alone for whom I write, believer in the dignity 
of humanity, and in the resemblance of the human to the divine 
nature ! 


It is highly incumbent on me that I should not lead my 
reader to expect more from me than I am able to perform. 
Whoever publishes a considerable work on physiognomy, gives 
his readers apparently to understand he is much better ac- 
quainted with the subject than any of his contemporaries. 
Should an error escape him, he exposes himself to the severest 
ridicule ; he is contemned, at least by those who do not read 
him, for pretensions which, probably, they suppose him to 
make, but which, in reality, he does not make. 

The God of truth, and all who know me, will bear testimony 
that, from my whole soul, I despise deceit, as I do all silly 
claims to superior wisdom, and infallibility, which so many 
writers, by a thousand artifices, endeavour to make their rea- 
ders imagine they possess. 

First, therefore, I declare, what I have uniformly declared 
on all occasions, although the persons who speak of me and my 
works endeavour to conceal it from themselves and others ; 
" That I understand but little of physiognomy, that I have 
been, and continue daily to be, mistaken in my judgment ; but 
that these errors are the natural, and most certain, means of 
correcting, confirming, and extending my knowledge." 

It will probably not be disagreeable to many of my readers, to 
be informed, in part, of the progress of my mind in this study. 

Before the age of five and twenty, there was nothing I 
should have supposed more improbable than that I should 
make the smallest inquiries concerning, much less that I 
should write a book on, physiognomy. I was neither inclined 
to read nor make the slightest observations on the subject. 
The extreme sensibility of my nerves occasioned me, however, 
to feel certain emotions at beholding certain countenances, 
which emotions remained when thoy were no longer present, 


without my being able to account for them, and even without 
my thinking any thing more of such countenances. I, some- 
times, instinctively formed a judgment, according to these 
first impressions, and was laughed at, ashamed, and 
cautious. Years passed away before I again dared, impelled 
by similar impressions, to venture similar opinions. In the 
mean time, I occasionally sketched the countenance of a friend, 
whom by chance I had lately been observing. I had from my 
earliest youth a strong propensity to drawing, and especially 
to drawing of portraits, although I had but little genius and 
perseverance. By this practice, my latent feelings began partly 
to unfold themselves. The various proportions, features, si- 
militudes, and varieties, of the human countenance, became 
more apparent. It has happened that, on two successive 
days, I have drawn two faces, the features of which had a 
remarkable resemblance. This awakened my attention ; and 
my astonishment increased when I obtained certain proofs 
that these persons were as similar in character as in feature. 

I was afterwards induced by M. Zimmermann, physician to 
the court of Hanover, to write my thoughts on this subject. 
I met with many opponents, and this opposition obliged me to 
make deeper and more laborious researches ; till at length the 
present work on physiognomy was produced. 

Here I must repeat the full conviction I feel that my whole 
life would be insufficient to form any approach towards a perfect 
and consistent whole. It is a field too vast for me singly to till. 
I shall find various opportunities of confessing my deficiency 
in various branches of science, without which it is impossible 
to study physiognomy with that firmness and certainty which 
are requisite. I shall conclude this fragment by declaring, 
with unreserved candour, and wholly committing myself to the 
reader who is the friend of truth — ■ 

That I have heard, from the weakest of men, remarks on the 
human countenance more acute than those I had made, re- 
marks which made mine appear trivial. 

That I believe, were various other persons to sketch coun- 
tenances, and write their observations, those I have hitherto 
made would soon become of little importance. 


That I daily meet a hundred faces concerning which I am 
unahle to pronounce any certain opinion. 

That no man has any thing to fear from my inspection, as 
it is my endeavour to find good in man, nor are there any men 
in whom good is not to be found. 

That since I have begun thus to observe mankind, my 
philanthropy is not diminished, but I will venture to say 

And that now (January 1 783), after ten years' daily study, I 
am not more convinced of the certainty of my own existence, 
than of the truth of the science of physiognomy ; or than that 
this truth may be demonstrated : — and that I hold him to 
be a weak and simple person who shall affirm, that the effects 
of the impression made upon him by all possible human coun- 
tenances are equal. 


Of all earthly creatures, man is the most perfect, the 
most imbued with the principles of life. 

Each particle of matter is an immensity ; each leaf a world ; 
each insect an inexplicable compendium. Who then shall 
enumerate the gradations between insect and man ? In him 
all the powers of nature are united. He is the essence of 
creation. The son of earth, he is the earth's lord ; the sum- 
mary and central point of all existence, of all powers, and of 
all life, on that earth which he inhabits. 

Of all organized beings with which we are acquainted, man 
alone excepted, there are none in which are so wonderfully 
united the three different kinds of life, the animal, the intel- 
lectual, and the moral. Each of these lives is the compen- 
dium of various faculties, most wonderfully compounded and 

To know — to desire — to act — or accurately to observe and 
meditate — to perceive and to wish — to possess the powers of 


motion and resistance — these combined constitute man an ani- 
mal, intellectual, and moral being. 

Man endowed with these faculties, with this triple life, is in 
himself the most worthy subject of observation, as he likewise 
is himself the most worthy observer. Under whatever point 
of view he may be considered, what is more worthy of contem- 
plation than himself? In him each species of life is conspicu- 
ous; yet never can his properties be wholly known, except by 
the aid of his external form, his body, his superficies. How 
spiritual, how incoi-poreal soever, his internal essence may be, 
still is he only visible and conceivable from the harmony of his 
constituent parts. From these he is inseparable. He exists 
and moves in the body he inhabits, as in his element. This 
material man must become the subject of observation. All 
the knowledge we can obtain of man must be gained through 
the medium of our senses. 

This threefold life, which man cannot be denied to possess, 
necessarily first becomes the subject of disquisition and re- 
search, as it presents itself in the form of body, and in such 
of his faculties as are apparent to sense. 

There is no object in nature the properties and powers of 
which can be manifest to us in any other manner than by such 
external appearances as affect the senses. By these all beings 
are characterized. They are the foundations of all human 
knowledge. Man must wander in the darkest ignorance, 
equally with respect to himself and the objects that surround 
him, did he not become acquainted with their properties and 
powers by the aid of their externals ; and had not each object 
a character peculiar to its nature and essence, which acquaints 
us with what it is, and enables us to distinguish it from 
what it is not. 

All bodies which we survey appear to sight under a certain 
form and superficies. We behold those outlines traced which 
are the result of their organization. I hope I shall be pardoned 
the repetition of such common-place truths, since on these are 
built the science of physiognomy, or the proper study of man. 
However true these axioms, with respect to visible objects, 
and particularly to organized bodies, they are still more exten- 


sively true when applied to man and his nature. The orga- 
nization of man peculiarly distinguishes him from all other 
earthly beings , and his physiognomy, that is to say, the super- 
ficies and outlines of this organization, shew him to be infi- 
nitely superior to all those visible beings by which he is sur- 

We are unacquainted with any form equally noble, equally 
majestic, with that of man, and in which so many kinds of life, 
so many powers, so many virtues of action and motion, unite, 
as in a central point. With firm step he advances over the 
earth's surface, and with erect body raises his head towards 
heaven. He looks forward to infinitude ; he acts with faci- 
lity, and swiftness inconceivable, and his motions are the 
most immediate and the most varied. By whom may their 
varieties be enumerated? He can at once both suffer and 
perform infinitely more than any other creature. He unites 
flexibility and fortitude, strength and dexterity, activity and 
rest. Of all creatures he can the soonest yield, and the 
longest resist. None resemble him in the variety and har- 
mony of his powers. His faculties, like his form, are peculiar 
to himself. 

How much nobler, more astonishing, and more attractive 
will this form become, when we discover that it is itself the 
interpreter of all the high powers it possesses, active and 
passive ! Only in those parts in which animal strength and 
properties reside does it resemble animals. But how much is 
it exalted above the brute in those parts in which are the 
powers of superior origin, the powers of mind, of motion ! 

The form and proportion of man, his superior height, 
capable of so many changes, and such variety of motion, prove 
to the unprejudiced observer his super-eminent strength, and 
astonishing facility of action. The high excellence, and phy- 
siological unity, of human nature are visible at the first glance. 
The head, especially the face, and the formation of the firm 
parts, compared to the firm parts of other animals, convince 
the accurate observer, who is capable of investigating truth, 
of the greatness and superiority of his intellectual qualities. 
The eye, the look, the cheeks, the mouth, the forehead, 


whether considered in a state of entire rest or during their 
innumerable varieties of motion, in fine, whatever is under- 
stood by physiognomy, are the most expressive, the most 
convincing picture of interior sensation, desires, passions, will, 
and of all those properties which so much exalt moral above 
animal life. 

Although the physiological, intellectual, and moral life of 
man, with all their subordinate powers, and their constituent 
parts, so eminently unite in one being ; although these three 
kinds of life do not, like three distinct families, reside in 
separate parts, or stories of the body ; but coexist in one 
point, and by their combination form one whole ; yet is it 
plain that each of these powers of life has its peculiar station, 
where it more especially unfolds itself, and acts. 

It is beyond contradiction evident that, though physiolo- 
gical or animal life displays itself through all the body, and 
especially through all the animal parts, yet does it act most 
conspicuously in the arm, from the shoulder to the ends of the 

It is equally clear that intellectual life, or the powers of 
the understanding and the mind, make themselves most appa- 
rent in the circumference and form of the solid parts of the 
head; especially the forehead, though they will discover 
themselves to an attentive and accurate eye, in every part 
and point of the human body, by the congeniality and harmony 
of the various parts, as will be frequently noticed in the course 
of this work. Is there any occasion to prove that the power 
of thinking resides neither in the foot, in the hand, nor in the 
back ; but in the head, and its internal parts ? 

The moral life of man, particularly, reveals itself in the 
lines, marks, and transitions of the countenance. His moral 
powers and desires, his irritability, sympathy, and antipathy ; 
his facility of attracting or repelling the objects that surround 
him ; these are all summed up in, and painted upon, his 
countenance when at rest. When any passion is called into 
action, such passion is depicted by the motion of the muscles, 
and these motions are accompanied by a strong palpitation of 


the heart. If the countenance be tranquil, it always denotes 
tranquillity in the region of the heart and breast. 

This threefold life of man, so intimately interwoven through 
his frame, is still capable of being studied in its different 
appropriate parts ; and did we live in a less depraved world 
we should find sufficient data for the science of physiognomy. 

The animal life, the lowest and most earthly, would discover 
itself from the rim of the belly to the oi'gans of generation, 
which would become its central or focal point. The middle 
or moral life would be seated in the breast, and the heart 
would be its central point. The intellectual life, which of the 
three is supreme, would reside in the head, and have the eye 
for its centre. If we take the countenance as the repre- 
sentative and epitome of the three divisions, then will the 
forehead, to the eye-brows, be the mirror, or image, of the 
understanding ; the nose and cheeks the image of the moral 
and sensitive life ; and the mouth and chin the image of the 
animal life ; while the eye will be to the whole as its summary 
and centre. I may also add that the closed mouth at the 
moment of most perfect tranquillity is the central point of the 
radii of the countenance. It cannot, however, too often be 
repeated that these three lives, by their intimate connexion 
with each other, are all, and each, expressed in every part of 
the body. 

What we have hitherto said is so clear, so well known, so 
universal, that we should blush to insist upon such common- 
place truths, were they not, first, the foundation on which we 
must build all we have to propose ; and, again, had not these 
truths (can it be believed by futurity V) in this our age been 
so many thousand times mistaken and contested, with the most 
inconceivable affectation. 

The science of physiognomy, whether understood in the 
most enlarged or most confined sense, indubitably depends on 
these general and incontrovertible princijsles ; yet, incontrover- 
tible as they are, they have not been without their opponents. 
Men pretend to doubt of the most striking, the most con- 
vincing, the most self-evident truths ; although were these 


destroyed, neither truth nor knowledge would remain. They 
do not profess to doubt concerning the physiognomy of other 
natural objects, yet do they doubt the physiognomy of human 
nature ; the first object, the most worthy of contemplation, 
and the most animated the realms of nature contain. 

We have already informed our readers they are to expect 
only fragments on physiognomy from us, and not a perfect 
system. However, what has been said may serve as a sketch 
for such a system. To acquire this perfection, it is necessary 
separately to consider the physiological part, or the exterior 
characters of the physical and animal powers of man ; the 
intellectual part, or the expression of the powers of the under- 
standing ; and the moral part, or the expression of the feeling 
and sensitive powers of man, and his irritability. 

Each of these subdivides itself into two general heads ; 
physiognomy, properly so called, which is the observation of 
character in a state of tranquillity, or rest, and pathognomy. 
which is the study of character in action 

Before we proceed to exemplify either of these general 
heads, it will not be unnecessary to insert some introductory 
fragments, once more avowing that we have neither the ability 
nor the intention to write a complete system. 


Taking it in its most extensive sense, I use the word phy- 
siognomy to signify the exterior, or superficies of man, in 
motion or at rest, whether viewed in the original or by portrait. 

Physiognomony, or, as more shortly written Physiognomy,* 
is the science or knowledge of the correspondence between 
the external and internal man, the visible superficies and the 
invisible contents. 

* The Author has made a distinction between Physiognomik, and Phy- 
siognomie, which neither accords with the English Language nor is 
necessary; since, by Physiognomie, he means only the countenance; and 
uses Physiognomik in the same sense as we do Physiognomy, to signify 
the science. T. 


Physiognomy may be divided into the various parts, or views 
under which man may be considered ; that is to say, into the 
animal, the moral, and the intellectual. 

Whoever forms a right judgment of the character of man, 
from those first impressions which are made by his exterior, is 
naturally a physiognomist. The scientific physiognomist is he 
who can arrange, and accurately define, the exterior traits ; 
and the philosophic physiognomist is he who is capable ot 
developing the principles of these exterior traits and tokens, 
which are the internal causes of external effects. 

Physiognomy is properly distinguished from pathognomy. 

Physiognomy, opposed to pathognomy, is the knowledge of 
the signs of the powers and inclinations of men. Pathognomy 
is the knowledge of the signs of the passions. 

Physiognomy, therefore, teaches the knowledge of character 
at rest ; and pathognomy of character in motion. 

Character at rest is displayed by the form of the solid and 
the appearance of the moveable parts, while at rest. Character 
impassioned is manifested by the moveable parts, in motion. 

Physiognomy may be compared to the sum total of the 
mind ; pathognomy to the interest which is the product of this 
sum total. The former shows what man is in general; the 
latter what he becomes at particular moments : or, the one 
what he might be, the other what he is. The first is the root 
and stem of the second, the soil in which it is planted. Who- 
ever believes the latter and not the former, believes in fruit 
without a tree, in corn without land. 

All people read the countenance pathognomonically ; few 
indeed read it physiognomonically. 

Pathognomy has to combat the arts of dissimulation ; phy- 
siognomy has not. 

These two sciences are to the friend of truth inseparable ; 
but as physiognomy is much less studied than pathognomy, I 
shall chiefly confine myself to the former. 



All countenances, all forms, all created beings, are not only 
different from each other in their classes, races, and kinds, but 
are also individually distinct. 

Each being differs from every other being of its species. 
However generally known, it is a truth the most important to 
our purpose, and necessary to repeat, that, " There is no rose 
perfectly similar to another rose, no egg to an egg, no eel to 
an eel, no lion to a lion, no eagle to an eagle, no man to a 

Confining this proposition to man only, it is the first, the 
most profound, most secure, and unshaken foundation-stone of 
physiognomy that, however intimate the analogy and similarity 
of the innumerable forms of men, no two men can be found 
who, brought together, and accurately compared, will not 
appear to be very remarkably different. 

Nor is it less incontrovertible that it is equally impossible to 
find two minds, as two countenances, which perfectly resemble 
each other. 

This consideration alone will be sufficient to make it re- 
ceived as a truth, not requiring further demonstration, that 
there must be a certain native analogy between the external 
varieties of the countenance and form, and the internal varie- 
ties of the mind. Shall it be denied that this acknowledged 
internal variety among all men is not the cause of the external 
variety of their forms and countenances? Shall it- be affirmed 
that the mind does not influence the body, or that the body 
does not influence the mind ? 

Anger renders the muscles protuberant; and shall not 
therefore an angry mind and protuberant muscles be con- 
sidered as cause and effect ? 

After repeated observation that an active and vivid eye 
and an active and acute wit are frequently found in the same 
person, shall it be supposed that there is no relation between 
the active eye and .the active mind I Is this the effect of 
accident ? — Of accident ! — Ought it not rather to be con- 


sidered as sympathy, an interchangeable and instantaneous 
effect, when we perceive that, at the very moment the under- 
standing is most acute and penetrating, and the wit the most 
lively, the motion and fire of the eye undergo, at that mo- 
ment, the most visible change ? 

Shall the open, friendly, and unsuspecting eye, and the 
open, friendly, and unsuspecting heart, be united in a thou- 
sand instances, and shall we say the one is not the cause, the 
other the effect ? 

Shall nature discover wisdom and order in all things ; shall 
corresponding causes and effects be every where united ; shall 
this be the most clear the most indubitable truths ; and in the 
first the most noble of the works of nature shall she act arbi- 
trarily, without design, without law ? The human countenance, 
that mirror of the Divinity, that noblest of the works of the 
Creator — shall not motive and action, shall not the corre- 
spondence between the interior and the exterior, the visible 
and the invisible, the cause and the effect, be there apparent ? 

Yet this is all denied by those who oppose the truth of the 
science of physiognomy. 

Truth, according to them, is ever at variance with itself. 
Eternal order is degraded to a juggler, whose purpose it is to 

Calm reason revolts at the supposition that Newton or 
Leibnitz ever could have the countenance and appearance of 
an idiot, incapable of a firm step, a meditating eye ; of com- 
prehending the least difficult of abstract propositions, and of 
expressing himself so as to be understood ; that one of these in 
the brain of a Laplander conceived his Theochcea ; and that 
he other in the head of an Esquimaux, who wants the power 
to number further than six, and affirms all beyond to be innu- 
merable, had dissected the rays of light, and weighed worlds. 

Calm reason revolts when it is asserted the strong man may 
appear perfectly like the weak, the man in full health like 
another in the last stage of a consumption, or that the rash 
and irascible may resemble the cold and phlegmatic. It re- 
volts to hear it affirmed that joy and grief, pleasure and pain, 
love and hatred, all exhibit themselves under the same traits. 


that is to say, under no traits whatever, on the exterior of 
man. Yet such are the assertions of those who maintain 
physiognomy is a chimerical science. They overturn ail that 
order and combination by which eternal wisdom so highly 
astonishes and delights the understanding. It cannot be too 
emphatically repeated, that blind chance and arbitrary dis- 
order constitute the philosophy of fools ; and that they are ' 
the bane of natural knowledge, philosophy and religion. En- 
tirely to banish such a system is the duty of the true inquirer, 
the sage and the divine. 

All men (this is indisputable), absolutely all men, estimate 
all things, whatever, by their physiognomy, their exterior tem- 
porary superficies. By viewing these on every occasion, they 
draw their conclusions concerning their internal properties. 

What merchant, if he be unacquainted with the person of 
whom he purchases, does not estimate his wares by the phy- 
siognomy or appearance of those wares? If he purchase of a 
distant correspondent, what other means does he use in judg- 
ing whether they are or are not equal to his expectation ? Is 
not his judgment determined by the colour, the fineness, the 
superficies, the exterior, the physiognomy ? Does he not judge 
money by its physiognomy 1 Why does he take one guinea 
and reject another ? Why weigh a third in his hand ? Does 
he not determine according to its colour, or impression ; its 
outside, its physiognomy ? If a stranger enter his shop, as a 
buyer, or seller, will he not observe him I Will he not draw 
conclusions from his countenance ? Will he not, almost before 
he is out of hearing, pronounce some opinion upon him, and 
say, " This man has an honest look — This man has a pleasing, 
or forbidding, countenance f — What is it to the purpose 
whether his judgment be right or wrong I He judges. Though 
not wholly, he depends, in part, upon the exterior form, and 
thence draws inferences concerning the mind. 

How does the farmer, walking through his grounds, regulate 
his future expectations, by the colour, the size, the growth, 
the exterior, that is to say, by the physiognomy of the bloom, 
the stalk, or the ear, of his corn ; the stem, and shoots of his 
vine-tree ?— " This ear of corn is blighted— That wood is full 


of sap ; this will grow, that not," affirms he, at the first, or 
second glance — " Though these vine-shoots look well, they 
will bear but few grapes." And wherefore ? He remarks, in 
their appearance, as the physiognomist in the countenances of 
shallow men, the want of native energy. Does not he judge 
by the exterior ? 

Does not the physician pay more attention to the physiog- 
nomy of the sick than to all tho accounts that are brought him 
concerning his patient ? Zimmermann, among the living, may 
be brought as a proof of the great perfection at which this kind 
of judgment is arrived ; and among the dead Kempf, whose son 
has written a treatise on Temperament. 

The painter — yet of him I will say nothing : his art too 
evidently reproves the childish and arrogant prejudices of those 
who pretend to disbelieve physiognomy. 

The traveller, the philanthropist, the misanthrope, the lover 
(and who not ?) all act according to their feelings and decisions, 
true or false, confused or clear, concerning physiognomy. 
These feelings, these decisions, excite compassion, disgust, joy. 
love, hatred, suspicion, confidence, reserve, or benevolence. 

Do we not daily judge of the sky by its physiognomy ? No 
food, not a glass of wine, or beer, not a cup of coffee, or tea, 
comes to table, which is not judged by its physiognomy, its ex- 
terior ; and of which we do not thence deduce some conclusion 
respecting its interior, good, or bad, properties. 

Is not all nature physiognomy ; superficies, and contents ; 
body, and spirit ; exterior effect, and internal power ; invisible 
beginning, and visible ending? 

What knowledge is there, of which man is capable, that is 
not founded on the exterior ; the relation that exists between 
visible and invisible, the perceptible and the imperceptible. 

Physiognomy, whether understood in its most extensive or 
confined signification, is the origin of all human decisions, efforts, 
actions, expectations, fears, and hopes : of all pleasing and un- 
pleasing sensations, which are occasioned by external objects. 

From the cradle to the grave, in all conditions and ages, 
throughout all nations, from Adam to the last existing man, 
from the worm we tread on to the most sublime of philoso- 


phers, (and why not to the angel, why not to the Mediator 
Christ ?) physiognomy is the origin of all we do and suffer. 

Each insect is acquainted with its friend and its foe ; each 
child loves and fears although it knows not why. Physiognomy 
is the cause ; nor is there a man to be found on earth who is not 
daily influenced by physiognomy ; not a man who cannot figure 
to himself a countenance which shall to him appear exceed- 
ingly lovely, or exceedingly hateful; not a man who does not 
more or less, the first time he is in company with a stranger, ob- 
serve, estimate, compare, and judge him, according to appear- 
ances, although he might never have heard of the word or thing 
called physiognomy ; not a man who does not judge of all things 
that pass through his hands, by their physiognomy ; that is, of 
their internal worth by their external appearance. 

The art of dissimulation itself, which is adduced as so insu- 
perable an objection to the truth of physiognomy, is founded 
upon physiognomy. Why does the hypocrite assume the ap- 
pearance of an honest man, but because that he is convinced, 
though not perhaps from any systematic reflection, that all 
eyes are acquainted with the characteristic marks of honesty. 

What judge, wise or unwise, whether he confess or deny the 
fact, does not sometimes in this sense decide from appear- 
ances ? Who can, is, or ought to be, absolutely indifferent to the 
exterior of persons brought before him to be judged ?* What 
king would choose a minister without examining his exterior, 
secretly, at least, and to a certain extent ? An officer will not 
enlist a soldier without thus examining his appearance, his 
height out of the question. What master or mistress of a 
family will choose a servant without considering the exterior ; 
no matter that their judgment may or may not be just, or that 
it may be exercised unconsciously ? 

I am wearied of citing instances so numerous, and so con- 
tinually before our eyes, to prove that men, tacitly and unani- 
mously, confess the influence which physiognomy has over 

* Franciscus Valesius says Sed iegi'ous etiam civilibus, in quibus 

iniquum sit censere esse aliquid futile aut varium, cautum est ; ut si duo 
homines inciderent in criminis suspicionem, is primum torqueatur qui it 
aspectu deformior. 



their sensations and actions. I feel disgust at being obliged to 
write thus, in order to convince the learned of truths with 
which every child is, or maybe, acquainted. 

He that hath eyes to see let him see : but should the light, 
by being brought too close to his eyes, produce phrenzy, he 
may burn himself by endeavouring to extinguish the torch of 
truth. I use such expressions unwillingly, but I dare do my 
duty, and my duty is boldly to declare that I believe myself 
certain of what I now and hereafter shall affirm ; and that I 
think myself capable of convincing all real lovers of truth, by 
principles which are in themselves incontrovertible. It is also 
necessary to confute the pretensions of certain literary despots, 
and to compel them to be more cautious in their decisions. It is 
therefore proved, not because I say it, but because it is an eternal 
and manifest truth, and would have been equally truth, had it 
never been said, that, whether they are or are not sensible of it, 
all men are daily influenced by physiognomy; that, as Sultzer has 
affirmed, every man, consciously or unconsciously, understands 
something of physiognomy; nay, that there is not a living being 
which does not, at least after its manner, draw some inferences 
from the external to the internal ; which does not judge concern- 
ing that which is not, by that which is, apparent to the senses. 

This universal though tacit confession, that the exterior, 
the visible, the superficies of objects, indicate their nature, 
their properties, and that every outward sign is the symbol of 
some inherent quality, I hold to be equally certain and impor- 
tant to the science of physiognomy. 

I must once more repeat, when each apple, each apricot, 
has a physiognomy peculiar to itself, shall man, the lord of 
earth, have none ? The most simple and inanimate object has 
its characteristic exterior, by which it is not only distinguished 
as a species, but individually ; and shall the first, noblest, best 
harmonized, and most beauteous of beings be denied all cha- 
racteristic ? 

But, whatever may be objected against the truth and cer- 
tainty of the science of physiognomy, by the most illiterate, or 
the most learned ; how much soever he who openly professes 
faith in this science may be subject to ridicule, to philosophic 


pity and contempt ; it still cannot be contested that there is 
no object, thus considered, more important, more worthy of 
observation, more interesting than man, nor any occupation 
superior to that of disclosing the beauties and perfections of 
human nature. 

Such were my opinions six or eight years ago. Will it in 
the next century he believed that it is still, at this time, 
necessary to repeat these things; or that numerous obscure 
witlings continue to treat with ridicule and contempt the 
general feelings of mankind, and observations which not only 
may be, but are demonstrated ; and that they act thus without 
having refuted any one of the principles at which they laugh ; 
yet that they are notwithstanding continually repeating the 
words, philosophy and enlightened age ? 

January \Oth, 1783. 


Before I proceed further, to prove that physiognomy is a 
real science founded in nature ; before I speak of its advan- 
tages, I think it necessary to notice certain reasons why there 
are so many prejudices entertained against physiognomy, 
especially moral and intellectual ; why it is so zealously 
opposed, and so loudly ridiculed. 

Proofs to demonstrate that this is the practice are unneces- 
sary. Of a hundred who pass their opinions on the subject, 
more than ninety will always openly oppose and treat it with 
eon tempt, although they secretly confide in it, at least to 
a certain degree. Some, indeed, are truly sincere. All the 
causes of such conduct are not to be discovered : or, if they 
were, who would have the temerity to drag them from the 
dark recesses of the human heart, and expose them to the 
blaze of day ? 

It is, however, equally possible and important to discover 
some of the most undeniable causes why so much ridicule and 
zealous enmity are entertained against this science ; and why 


they are so general, violent, and irreconcilable. The reality 
of the following reasons, if I mistake not, cannot be entirely 

1 . Most pitiable absurdities have been written against 'phy- 
siognomy. This sublime science has been debased with the 
most puerile of follies. It has been confounded with divina- 
tion by the countenance, and the quackery of chiromancy. 
Nothing more trivial can be imagined, more insulting to com- 
mon sense, than what has been written on this subject, from 
the time of Aristotle to the present. On the contrary, who 
can produce any rational treatise in its support ? What man 
of talents, taste, or genius, has employed, in the investigation 
of this subject, that impartiality, those powers of mind, that 
attachment to truth, which it appears to merit, whether the 
science be true or false, since numerous authors of every nation 
have written for or against physiognomy ? How feeble, how 
timid, have been the efforts of those men of eminence who 
have been its defenders ! 

Who has sufficient boldness, fortitude, and disregard of con- 
sequences, to hold that thing sacred which has been exposed to 
the profanation of ridicule, during centuries ? Is it not the 
general progress of human opinions first to be too much idol- 
ized, and next to be treated with unlimited scorn I Are not 
the reasons of such praise and blame alike unsatisfactory and 
ill founded ? By the absurd manner in which this science has 
been treated, the science has itself become absurd. What 
truth, which of the sublime doctrines of theology, has not 
been subject to similar treatment ? Is there any cause, how- 
ever strong, which may not, by silly reasons, and silly advo- 
cates, at least for a time, be rendered weak? How many 
thousands have lost all faith in the gospel, because that the 
truths it contains have been defended upon the most ridiculous 
principles, by which truth has been painted in the falsest of 
colours ! 

2. Others are zealous opponents of physiognomy who yet 
possess the most benevolent of hearts. They suppose, and not 


without reason, that with the majority of mankind it would 
become a subject of detriment and abuse. They foresee the 
many absurd and injurious judgments which would be passed 
by the ignorant and the malicious. Slander, wanting facts, 
would imagine them, and appeal for proof to the countenance. 
Those benevolent opponents, for whose sake the science of phy- 
siognomy is worthy to be found true, since it would develope 
the hidden beauties of their minds, esteem opposition a duty ; 
because so many persons, whom they believe to be much better 
than their countenances seem to indicate, would be injured, 
might any dependence be placed on the science of physiog- 

3. Is not weakness of understanding, also, frequently the 
cause of opposition ? How few have made, how few are capable 
of making, observation ! Even of those capable of observing, 
how few are there who will sufficiently depend on what they 
have observed, or will sufficiently connect their remarks! 
Among a hundred persons, can two be found who will stem the 
stream of prejudice ? How few have the fortitude, or ambi- 
tion, to encounter the difficulties of a road so little known ! 
All-enslaving, all-fascinating Indolence, how dost thou debilitate 
the mind of man ; how powerfully dost thou excite enmity 
irreconcilable against the most beneficial, the most beauteous, 
of human sciences ! 

4. Some may oppose from modesty and humility. Compli- 
ments have been paid them, concerning the meaning or 
expression of their countenances, which they are unwilling to 
believe, from their own secret and modest experience. They 
imagine themselves inferior to what they have been supposed, 
by the estimates of physiognomy ; they therefore conclude 
physiognomy to be a deceitful, and ill-founded science. 

5. The majority, however, (it is a mournful, but a true re- 
mark,) the majority are enemies of, because they dread the light 
of, physiognomy. I publicly declare, as is apparent from what 
has been said, that all the opponents of physiognomy are not 


bad men. I have heard it opposed by the most worthy men, 
and men of the greatest understanding. I must nevertheless, 
declare, that wicked men are in general its most determined 
foes ; and, should the worthless man be found taking a con- 
trary side of the question, he probably has his private reasons, 
which are easily to be conceived. And what is the cause of 
this opposition ? It is their secret belief in its truth ; it is the 
conviction that they do not possess that exterior, which, were 
they good, were their consciences calm and undisturbed, they 
would possess. 

To reject this science, as chimerical, and render it ridiculous, 
is their greatest, their most immediate interest. 

The more any witness lays to our charge, the heavier and 
more irrefutable his testimony is, the more insupportable will 
it be to us, the more shall we exert every faculty of the soul 
to prove him absurd, or render him ridiculous. 

I cannot help considering this violent opposition of the 
vicious to physiognomy as the most certain proof of a secret 
belief in the science. They are convinced of the truth of it, 
in others, and tremble lest others should read its truth in 
themselves. What renders this still more probable is, that, I 
certainly know the very persons who most endeavour publicly 
to turn it to ridicule, are most eager to listen to the decisions 
of physiognomy. I dare safely appeal to any one, who is or 
affects to be prejudiced against physiognomy, whether it would 
not give him a secret pleasure that some one, to whom he is 
not personally known, but who should happen to see his por- 
trait, should pass judgment upon it. I may further appeal to 
any one who considers this science as illusory, whether that 
belief will deter him from reading these fragments. Though 
no prophet, I can foretell that you who are most inimical to 
physiognomy, will read, will study, will frequently assent to 
my remarks. I know that you will often be pleased to find 
observations in this work, which will accord with, and confirm 
those you yourselves have secretly made. Yet will you become 
my open antagonists. In your closets you will smile friendly 
applause ; and, in public, ridicule that which feeling told you 
was truth. You will increase your own stock of observation, 


will become more confirmed in its certainty, yet will continue 
your endeavours to render observation ridiculous; for it is 
the fashionable philosophy of the present age, " outwardly to 
treat that with contempt, which we inwardly are obliged to 


Testimonies and authorities, in questions that relate to the 
understanding, are often paid more deference to than prin- 
ciples. Therefore, to support the feeble among my readers, 
and to furnish the strong with such arguments as are most 
convenient in their disputes with the feeble, I shall produce 
witnesses, of more or less importance, among the learned and 
the wise, in the company of whom I shall esteem it an honour 
to be despised. They will be few, and not conclusive ; but, 
however, may to many appear of consequence, and be unex- 


1 . A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward 
mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, 
he teacheth with his fingers. — He shutteth his eyes to devise 
froward things ; moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass. — 
Prov. vi. 12, 13 ; xvi. 30. 

The countenance of the wise sheweth wisdom, but the eyes 
of a fool are in the ends of the earth. — Prov. xvii. 24. 

Where there is a high look there is a proud heart. — Prov. 
xxi. 4. 

Though the wicked man constrain his countenance, the wise 
can distinctly discern his purpose. — Prov. xxi. 29. 

There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes, and their 
eyelids are lifted up ! — Prov. xxx. 13.* 


2. The heart of man changeth his countenance, whether it 
be for good or evil; and a merry heart maketh a cheerful coun- 

* Mr. Lavater reads differently from the English Bible. T. 


tenance. A cheerful countenance is a token of a heart that is 
in prosperity. — Ecclesiasticus xiii. 25, 26. 

A man may be known by his look, and one that hath under- 
standing by his countenance, when thou meetest him. — A man's 
attire and excessive laughter and gait shew what he is. — Ec- 
clesiasticus xix. 29, 30. 

3. " Though unacknowledged, it is a certain truth, that, of 
all objects that charm and delight the eye, man is the most 
interesting. He is the highest, the most inconceivable, of the 
miracles of nature. He is a lump of clay, by her endowed 
with life, activity, sensation, thought, and a moral character. 
That we are not struck motionless at the sight of man, can 
only be accounted for by knowing that the continual habit of 
beholding things the most wonderful soon deprives us of amaze- 
ment. Hence it happens that the human form and counte- 
nance do not attract the observation of vulgar and inattentive 
minds. Whoever has, in the least, risen superior to the in- 
fluence of habit, and is capable of paying attention to objects 
that are perpetually recurring ; to him will each countenance 
become remarkable. However delusive the science of physi- 
ognomy, or of discovering the character of man from his form 
and features, may appear to most persons ; nothing is more 
certain than that every observing and feeling man possesses 
something of this science ; and reads, in part, in the faces and 
members of men, their present thoughts and passions. We 
often affirm, with the greatest certainty, that a man is sad, 
merry, thoughtful, uneasy, or fearful, merely from the testi- 
mony of his countenance, and should be exceedingly surprised 
to hear ourselves contradicted. It is likewise certain that we 
read, in the form of man, and particularly in the countenance, 
something of what passes in the mind. By viewing the body, 
we view the soul. From these principles, we may deduce that 
the body is the image of the soul, or that the soul itself is 
rendered visible." — Algemeine Theorie der schonen Kunste II. 
Theil Art. Portrait. 


4. We know that nothing passes in the soul which does not 
produce some change in the body ; and particularly that no 
desire, no act of willing, is exerted by the soul, without some 
corresponding motion, at the same time, taking place in the 
body. All changes of the soul originate in the soul's essence, 
and all changes in the body in the body's essence : the body's 
essence consists in the conformation of its members ; there- 
fore, the conformation of the body, according to its form, and 
the form of its constituent members, must correspond with 
the essence of the soul. In like manner must the varieties of 
the mind be displayed in the varieties of the body. Hence 
the body must contain something in itself, and in its form, as 
well as in the form of its parts, by which an opinion may be 
deduced concerning the native qualities of the mind. I repeat 
native qualities, for the question here does not concern those 
qualities derived from education, or by instructive conversa- 
tion. Thus considered, the art of judging man, by the form 
of his members, and of his whole body, and which usually is 
called physiognomy, is well founded. I shall not here examine 
whether those who have endeavoured to explain the connexion 
there is between soul and body, have or have not been suc- 
cessful. I here understand, by the form of its members, all 
that can be distinctly seen ; such as the whole figure, the pro- 
portion of the parts, and their positions. 

" But, as man, by education, society, instruction, and 
habit, may alter his natural inclinations, which I take for 
granted is a fact proved by daily experience, we can only judge 
what his natural inclinations were by the formation of his 
body ; and not what he may become, when, by the aid of 
reason or long habit, he may have resisted his natural inclina- 
tion ; as it is certain that no change can happen in the soul, 
without some corresponding act of the body. Yet, as we find 
natural inclination will continually be at warfare with reason 
and habit, and that, when natural inclination is good, will even 
contend with evil habit; hence, we may infer that these 
changes which have happened in the body cannot have entirely 
c * 


destroyed the original conformation of the members. The 
subject is delicate, and I am greatly inclined to believe phy- 
siognomy required much more knowledge and penetration than 
men possessed, at the time it was endeavoured to be reduced 

to a science." 

" As the lines of the countenance, especially, constitute ita 
expression ; which expression is always true when the mind 
is free from constraint ; these lines, therefore, must discover 
what the natural inclinations are, when seen in their true and 
native position." — Vernunftige Gedanken von der Menschen 
thun und lassen. § 213, 14, 16, 19. 

5. " Much indeed depends upon the aspect of the coun- 
tenance, with respect to propriety. What pleases or offends 
most in such aspect is the character of the mind and heart, 
which is expressed in the eye and countenance. The calm, 
mild, peaceable, noble, humane, sublime, mind ; the mind of 
benevolence, sincerity, and conscious rectitude, which has sub- 
dued its desires and passions, will insinuate itself into the 
features and windings of the body. Such a mind pleases, cap- 
tivates, enchants, produces decorum, the upright, noble, and 
majestic form, the gentle and beneficent traits of the coun- 
tenance, the open and candid eye, the serious yet benevolent 
brow, the hospitable yet humble visage ; and the best com- 
plexion the face can receive is that which the heart and un- 
derstanding communicate. It is objected that appearances 
deceive. True ; appearances may be assumed, but, when 
assumed, they are seldom unaccompanied by restraint ; and 
truth is as easily discovered in the face as in the real or appa- 
rently beautiful thought. Paint never can equal the native 
hue, however artfully applied ; noi do I hold the argument, 
that a fair face may conceal a vicious heart, to be of any weight. 
I am much more inclined to suppose such persons have a very 
strong propensity towards the qualities which are expressed in 
their countenances. It often indeed happens that the gloomy 
face may hide a cheerful heart, and the forbidding brow a 
humane mind. This may either be the effect of bad habits, 


evil company, some defect of nature ; or it may be the conse- 
quence of continued ill practice, in early life, the effects of 
which have been afterwards overcome. 

" We are taught, by constant experience, that vicious in- 
clinations are transmitted from the heart to the face ; at least, 
this is true of certain vices. And what is the fairest coun- 
tenance disfigured by the hateful vices of lust, anger, falsehood, 
envy, avarice, pride, and discontent I What can external marks 
of decorum effect when an ignoble and insignificant mind is 
depicted on the countenance ? The most certain means of 
rendering the face beautiful is to beautify the mind, and to 
purify it from vice. He who would make his countenance in- 
telligent, must so first make his mind. He who would impart 
to the face its most fascinating charms, must store the mind 
with religion and virtue, which will diffuse over it every ex- 
pression of sublime content. The great Young somewhere 
says, ' there is not a more divine spectacle than a beauteous 
virgin, kneeling at her devotions, in whose countenance the 
humility and innocence of virtue beam.' 

" And would not, in reality, this pleasing, this amiable ex- 
pression of the heart, which we so much admire, accompany us 
in all our actions, were we as good, as beneficent, as we give 
ourselves so much trouble to appear, and which we might be 
with so little ? Suppose two ministers, the natural gifts and 
external advantages of whom are equal ; the one the sincere 
Christian, the other the perfect man of the world ; which will 
have the advantage of exterior appearances, he whose heart 
overflows with the noblest philanthropy, or he who is prompted 
by self-love to render himself pleasing ? 

" The voice, often, is an evident indication of character, the 
good or bad properties of which it will acquire : there are certain 
tones of voice which betray a want of understanding, and which, 
when we have learned to think, will no more be heard. The good 
inclinations and sensations of the heart will always modulate and 
inspire the voice." — Moralische Vorlesungen, § 303, 307. 

6. Of all the writers I am acquainted with, who have men- 
tioned physiognomy, none seem to me so profound, so exact, 


so clear, so great, I had almost said, so sacred, as Herder. 
The passages which I shall transcribe from his Plastick* (a 
work which may challenge all nations to produce its equal) 
are not only testimonies in favour of physiognomy, but almost 
render every thing I have hitherto said trivial. They nearly 
contain the system of physiognomy in nuce (in a nutshell), 
the essence and sum of physiognomy. 

" Where is the hand that shall grasp that which resides 
beneath the skull of man ? Who shall approach the surface 
of that now tranquil, now tempestuous abyss ! Like as the 
Deity has ever been adored in sacred groves, so is the Leba- 
non, the Olympus of man, that seat of the secret power of the 
Divinity, overshadowed ! We shudder at contemplating the 
powers contained in so small a circumference, by which a 
world may be enlightened, or a world destroyed. 

" Through those two inlets of soul, the eye and ear, how 
wonderful are the worlds of light and sound, the words and 
images that find entrance ! 

" How significant are the descending locks that shade this 
mountain, this seat of the gods ! their luxuriance, their parti- 
tion, their intermingling !f 

" The head is elevated upon the neck. Olympus resting 
upon an eminence in which are united freedom and strength, 
compression and elasticity, descriptive of the present and the 
future. The neck it is that expresses, not what man was ori- 
ginally, but what he is by habit or accident become ; whether 
erect in defence of freedom, stretched forth and curbed in token 
of patient suffering, rising a Herculean pillar of fortitude, or 
sinking between the shoulders, the image of degradation ; still 
it is incontestably expressive of character, action, and truth. 

" Let us proceed to the countenance, in which shine forth 
mind, and divinity. 

* Plastick. Einige Wahrnehmungen uber Form und Gestalt aus Pygma- 

lions bildendem Traume. 2\ koWos ; epar-rifia Tv<f>\ov. — Riga bey Hartk- 

noch, 1778. 

1 1 shall, probably, hereafter, make further use of this passage. 


" On the front appear light and gloom, joy and anxiety, 
stupidity, ignorance, and vice. On this brazen table are deeply 
engraved every combination of sense and soul. I can con- 
ceive no spectator to whom the forehead can appear unin- 
teresting. Here all the Graces revel, or all the Cyclops 
thunder ! Nature has left it bare, that, by it, the Countenance 
may be enlightened or darkened. 

" At its lowest extremities, thought appears to be changed 
into act. The mind here collects the powers of resistance. 
Here reside the cornua addita pauperi. Here headlong obsti- 
nacy and wise perseverance take up their fixed abode. 

" Beneath the forehead are its beauteous confines the eye- 
brows ; a rainbow of promise, when benignant ; and the bent 
bow of discord, when enraged ; alike descriptive, in each case, 
of interior feeling. 

" I -know not any thing which can give more pleasure, to an 
accurate observer, than a distinct and perfectly arched eye- 

" The nose imparts solidity and unity to the whole coun- 
tenance. It is the mountain that shelters the fair vales 
beneath. How descriptive of mind and character are its 
various parts ; the insertion, the ridge, the cartilage, the 
nostrils, through which life is inhaled. 

" The eyes, considered only as tangible objects, are by their 
form, the windows of the soul, the fountains of light and life. 
Mere feeling would discover that their size and globular shape 
are not unmeaning. The eye-bone, whether gradually sunken, 
or boldly prominent, equally is worthy of attention ; as like- 
wise are the temples, whether hollow or smooth. That region 
of the face which includes the eyebrows, eye, and nose, also 
includes the chief signs of soul ; that is, of will, or mind, in 

" The occult, the noble, the sublime, sense of hearing, has 
nature placed sideways, and half concealed. Man ought not 
to listen entirely from motives of complaisance to others, but 
of information to himself ; and. however perfect this organ of 
sensation may be, it is devoid of ornament ; or, delicacy, 
depth, and expansion, such are its ornaments. 


" I now come to the inferior part of the face, on which 
nature bestowed a mask for the male ; and, in my opinion, not 
without reason. Here are displayed those marks of sensuality, 
which ought to be hidden. All know how much the upper lip 
betokens the sensations of taste, desire, appetite, and the en- 
joyments of love ; how much it is curved by pride and anger, 
drawn thin by cunning, smoothed by benevolence, made flaccid 
by effeminacy ; how love and desire, sighs and kisses, cling to 
it, by indescribable traits. The under lip is little more than 
its supporter, the rosy cushion on which the crown of majesty 
reposes. If the parts of any two bodies can be pronounced to 
be exactly adapted to each other, such are the lips of man, 
when the mouth is closed. 

" It is exceedingly necessary to observe the arrangement of 
the teeth, and the circular conformation of the cheeks. The 
chaste and delicate mouth is, perhaps, one of the first recom- 
mendations to be met with in the common intercourse of life. 
Words are the pictures of the mind. We judge of the host by 
the portal. He holds the flaggon of truth, of love and endear- 
ing friendship. 

" The chin is formed by the under lip, and the termination 
of the jaw-bones. If I may speak figuratively, it is the picture 
of sensuality in man, according as it is more or less flexible, 
smooth, or carbuncled : it discovers what his rank is among his 
fellows. The chin forms the oval of the countenance ; and 
when, as in the antique statues of the Greeks, it is neither 
pointed nor indented, but smooth, and gradually diminishes, it 
is then the key-stone of the superstructure. A deformity in 
the chin is indeed much to be dreaded. 1 ' 

My quotation from this work is shorter than I intended, but 
further extracts will be made hereafter. 

Enough, perhaps more than enough, and nothing but what 
was anticipated. I do not subscribe to all the opinions in 
these authors, and I shall find an opportunity to repeat some 
of them ; to confirm, to consider them more attentively, and, 
I hope, sometimes, to correct them, when erroneous. In the 
mean time, these testimonies contain sufficient information and 


proof, though the researches they include are not in my opi- 
nion so profound as they ought to be, to supersede, in part, 
that disrepute into which physiognomy has so generally fallen, 
and to put that pitiable prejudice to the blush which would 
rank it with the predictions of astrology. 


By physiognomonical sensation, I here understand " those 
feelings which are produced at beholding certain countenances, 
and the conjectures concerning the qualities of the mind, which 
are produced by the state of such countenances, or of their 
portraits drawn or painted." 

This sensation is very universal ; that is to say, as certainly 
as eyes are in any man, or any animal, so certainly are they 
accompanied by physiognomonical sensations. Different sen- 
sations are produced in each by the different forms that present 

Exactly similar sensations cannot be generated by forms 
that are in themselves different. 

Various as the impressions may be which the same object 
makes on various spectators, and opposite as the judgments 
which may be pronounced on one and the same form, yet there 
are certain extremes, certain forms, physiognomies, figures, 
and lineaments, concerning which all, who are not idiots, will 
agree in their opinions. So will men be various in their deci- 
sions concerning certain portraits, yet will be unanimous con- 
cerning certain others; will say, " this is so like it absolutely 
breathes," or, " this is totally unlike." Of the numerous 
proofs which might be adduced of the universality of physiog- 
nomonical sensation, it is only necessary to select a few, to 
demonstrate the fact. 

I shall not here repeat what I have already noticed, on the 
instantaneous judgment which all men give, when viewing 
exterior forms. I shall only observe that, let any person, but 
for two days, remark all that he hears or reads, among men, 


and he will every where hear and read, even from the very 
adversaries of physiognomy, physiognomonical judgments con- 
cerning men ; will continually hear expressions like these : 
" You might have read it in his eyes" — "The look of the man 
is enough" — " He has an honest countenance" — " His manner 
sets every person at his ease" — " He has evil eyes" — " You 
read honesty in his looks" — " He has an unhealthy counte- 
nance" — " I will trust him for his honest face" — " Should he 
deceive me, I will never trust man more" — " That man has an 
open countenance" — "I suspect that insidious smile" — "He 
cannot look any person in the face." — The very judgments 
that should seem to militate against the science are but excep- 
tions which confirm the universality of physiognomonical sensa- 
tion. " His appearance is against him" — " This is what I 
could not have read in his countenance" — " He is better or 
worse than his countenance bespeaks." 

If we observe mankind, from the most finished courtier to 
the lowest of the vulgar, and listen to the remarks they make 
on each other, we shall be astonished to find how many of them 
are entirely physiognomonical. 

I have lately had such frequent occasion of observing this, 
among people who do not know that I have published any such 
work as the present ; people, who, perhaps, never heard the 
word physiognomy ; that I am willing, at any time, to risk my 
veracity on the proof that all men, unconsciously, more or less, 
are guided by physiognomonical sensation. 

Another, no less convincing, though not sufficiently noticed, 
proof, of the universality of physiognomonical sensation, that is 
to say, of the confused feeling of the agreement between the 
internal character and the external form, is the number of 
physiognomonical terms to be found, in all languages, and 
among all nations ; or, in other words, the number of moral 
terms, which, in reality, are all physiognomonical ; but this is 
a subject that deserves a separate treatise. How important 
would such a treatise be in extending the knowledge of lan- 
guages, and determining the precise meaning of words .' How 
new ! How interesting ! 

Here I might adduce physiognomonical proverbs; but T 


have neither sufficient learning nor leisure to cite them from 
all languages, so as properly to elucidate the subject. To this 
might be added the numerous physiognomonical traits, charac- 
ters, and descriptions, which are so frequent in the writings of 
the greatest poets, and which so much delight all readers of 
taste, sensibility, knowledge of human nature, and philanthropy. 
Physiognomonical sensation is not only produced by the sight 
of man, but also by that of paintings, drawings, shades, and 
outlines. Scarcely is there a man in a thousand who, if such 
sketches were shewn him, would not, of himself, form some 
judgment concerning them, or, at least, who would not readily 
attend to the judgment formed by others. 




We shall when necessary make additions to some fragments, 
in support, and elucidatory of those opinions and propositions 
which have been advanced. 



Fig. 1. — Whoever examines this countenance cannot but 
perceive in it the traits of fortitude, deep penetration, deter- 
mined perseverance, and inventive genius. At least every one 
will acknowledge the truth of these observations, when made. 


Fig. 2. — There are few men, capable of observation, who 
will class this visage with the stupid. In the aspect, the eye, 
the nose, especially, and the mouth, are proofs, not to be mis- 
taken, of the accomplished gentleman, and the man of taste. 


Fig. 3, 4.— The most unpractised eye will easily discover 


in tnese two sketches of Johnson, the acute, the comprehen- 
sive, the capacious mind, not easily deceived, and rather in- 
clined to suspicion than credulity. 


Fig. 5. — Says as little as an outline can say; certainly not 
drawn in that position which gives the decided character of a 
man ; entirely deprived of all those shades which are, often, so 
wonderfully significant ; yet, if so rude an outline ever can 
convey meaning, it does in the present instance ; and cer- 
tainly, according to the physiognomonical sensation of all 
experienced people, it is at least a capacious head, easy of 
conception, and possessed of feelings quickly incited by the 


Fig. 6. — On the first view of this countenance, all will 
acknowledge Spalding was more than a common man ; accu- 
rate, acute, and endowed with taste. Was he easily to be 
deceived ? All will answer, no. Was he the friend of per- 
plexed and obscure ideas ? Certainly not. Will he act worthily 
and wisely? If he acts agreeably to his countenance, cer- 
tainly, yes. The same will be said, whether viewed in front, 
or, in 

Profile, Fig. 7 ; the forehead, the eye, and the aspect, 
will appear, to the most uninformed, to betoken an elegant 
and reflective mind. 


Fig. 8. — A copy of a copy : add, if you please, a spiritless, 
vapid outline. How deficient must all outlines be ! Among 
ten thousand can one be found that is exact ? Where is the 
outline that can portray genius ? Yet who does not read, in 
this outline, imperfect as it is, from pure physiognomonical 
sensation, the clear, the capacious, the rapid mind ; all con- 
ceiving, all embracing, that, with equal swiftness and facility, 
imagines, creates, produces. 


Fig. 9. — The most unpractised reader will not deny to this 



countenance all the keen, the searching, penetration of wit ; 
the most original fancy, full of fire, and the powers of inven- 
tion. Who is so dull as not to view, in this countenance, 
somewhat of the spirit of poor Yorick ? 


Fig. 10. — Perspicuity, benevolence, dignity, serenity, dis- 
passionate meditation, the powers of conception, and perse- 
verance, are the most apparent characteristics of this coun- 
tenance. He who can hate such a face must laboriously 
counteract all those physiognomonical sensations with which 
he was born. 

Fig. 11.— As is the full face, so is the profile; how em- 
phatically does this confirm our judgment ! To whom are not 
this forehead and this nose the pledges of a sound and pene- 
trating understanding ; this mouth, this chin, of benevolence 
a noble mind, fidelity, and friendship. 

We must now view the reverse. Hitherto we have beheld 
nature in the most perfect of her productions : we must pro- 
ceed to contemplate her in her deformity. In this, also, how 
intelligibly does she speak to the eyes of all, at the first glance ! 

Fig. 12. — Who does not here read reason debased • stu- 
pidity almost sunken to brutality ? This eye, these wrinkles, 
of a lowering forehead, this projecting mouth, the whole 
position of the head, do they not all denote manifest dullness 
and debility ? 

Fig. 1.— However equivocal the upper part of this coun- 
tenance may be, physiognomonical sensation finds no difficulty 
in the lower. No person whatever will expect from this open 
mouth, this chin, these wrinkled cheeks, the effects of reflec- 
tion, comparison, and sound decision. 


Fig. 2, 3.— From the small eyes in both, the wrinkles in 
Fig. 3, their open mouths, particularly from the under part of 


the countenance of Fig. 2, no man whatever will expect pene- 
tration, reasoning, or wisdom. 


Fig. 4, 5. — That physiognomonical sensation, which, like 
sight and hearing, is born with all, will not permit us to expect 
much from Fig. 4 ; although, to the inexperienced in physiog- 
nomy, the proper marks of folly are not very apparent. It 
would excite universal surprise, should any one, possessing 
such a countenance, pronounce accurate decisions, or produce 
a work of genius. Fig. 5, is still less to be mistaken, and I 
would ask the most obstinate opponent of physiognomonical 
sensation, whether he would personally declare, or give it 
under his hand, that the man who expects wisdom from this 
countenance is himself wise. 

Fig. 6, 7, 8, 9. — True or false, nature or caricature, each of 
these four Attilas will, to the common sensations of all men, 
depict an inhuman and brutal character. Brutality is most 
apparent in the horned figures (the horns out of the question), 
and it is impossible to be overlooked in the nose and mouth, 
or in the eye ; though still it deserves to be called a human eye. 


Fig. 10. — Who can persuade himself that an apostle of 
Jesus Christ ever had an aspect like this, or that the Saviour 
could have called such a countenance to the apostleship ? And 
whose feelings will be offended when we pronounce a visage 
like this base and wicked ? Who could place confidence in 
such a man? 

Let us proceed to the characters of passion. These are in 
telligible to every child; therefore, concerning these, there can 
be no dispute, if we are in any degree acquainted with their 
language. The more violent the passion is, the more apparent 
are its signs. The effect of the stiller passions is to contract 
and of the violent to distend the muscles. All will perceive in 
the four countenances of Plate III., Fig. 1 to 4, fear mingled 




with abhorrence. In the four following, 5 to 8, as visibly will 

be perceived different gradations of terror, to the extreme. 

A succession of calm, silent, restless, deep, and patient grief, 
are seen in Fig. 9 to 16. The same observation will apply to 
Plate IV., Fig. 1 to 8. 

No man will expect cheerfulness, tranquillity, content, 
strength of mind, and magnanimity, from Fig. 9 to 12. 

Fear and terror are evident in 13, 14 ; and terror, height- 
ened by native indocility of character, in 15, 16. 

Such examples might be multiplied without number ; but to 
adduce some of the most decisive of the various classes is suffi- 
cient. We shall have continual occasion to exercise, and im- 
prove, this kind of physiognomonical sensation in our readers. 


" Though there may be some truth in it, still, physiognomy 
never can be a science." Such will be the assertion of thou- 
sands of our readers, and, perhaps, this assertion will be re- 
peated, how clearly soever their objections may be answered, 
and however little they may have to reply. 

To such objectors we will say, physiognomy is as capable of 
becoming a science as any one of the sciences, mathematics 
excepted. As capable as experimental philosophy, for it is 
experimental philosophy ; as capable as physic, for it is a 
part of the physical art ; as capable as theology, for it is 
theology; as capable as the belles lettres, for it appertains to 
the belles lettres. Like all these, it may, to a certain extent, 
be reduced to rule, and acquire an appropriate character, by 
which it may be taught. As in every other science, so in 
this, much must be left to sensibility and genius. At pre- 
sent it is deficient in determinate signs and rules. 

Whoever will take the trouble, which every child has the 
power of taking, of assuming those principles which all sciences 
have in common, the purely mathematical excepted, will no 
longer during his life, object that physiognomy is not scientific. 
Either he must allow the appellation scientific to physiognomy, 
or deny it to whatever is at present denominated science. 


Whenever truth or knowledge is explained by fixed princi- 
ples, it becomes scientific, so far as it can be imparted by words, 
lines, rules, and definitions. The question will be reduced to 
whether it be possible to explain the undeniable striking differ- 
ences, which exist between human faces and forms, not by ob- 
scure, confused conceptions, but by certain characters, signs, 
and expressions; whether these signs can communicate the 
strength and weakness, health and sickness, of the body ; the 
folly and wisdom, the magnanimity and meanness, the virtue 
and the vice of the mind. This is the only thing to be de- 
cided ; and he, who, instead of investigating this question, 
should continue to declaim against it, must either be deficient 
in logical reasoning or in the love of truth. 

What would be said of the man who should attempt to ba- 
nish natural philosophy, physic, divinity, and the belles lettres, 
from the number of the sciences, because so many branches of 
them yet remain uncultivated, and clouded by uncertainty ? 

Is it not true that the experimental philosopher can only 
proceed with his discoveries to a certain extent ; only can 
communicate them by words ; can only say, " such and such 
are my experiments, such my remarks, such is the number of 
them, and such are the inferences I draw : pursue the track 
that I have explored ?" Yet will he not be unable, sometimes, 
to say thus much I Will not his active mind make a thousand 
remarks, which he will want the power to communicate ? Will 
not his eye penetrate recesses which he shall be unable to dis- 
cover to that feebler vision that cannot discover for itself? 
And is experimental philosophy, therefore, the less a science ? 
How great a perception of the truth had Leibnitz, before the 
genius of Wolf had opened that road, in which, at present, 
every cold logician may securely walk? And with which of 
the sciences is it otherwise ? Is any science brought to per- 
fection at the moment of its birth ? Does not genius conti- 
nually, with eagle eye and flight, anticipate centuries ? How 
long did the world wait for Wolf ? Who, among the moderns, 
is more scientific than Bonnet ? Who so happily unites the 
genius of Leibnitz and the phlegm of Wolf? Who more 
accurately distinguishes falsehood from truth? Who more 
condescendingly takes ignorance by the hand ? Yet to whom 


would he be able to communicate his sudden perception of the 
truth ; the result or the sources of those numerous, small, 
indescribable, rapid, profound remarks? To whom could he 
impart' these by signs, tones, images, and rules ? Is it not the 
same with physic, with theology, with all sciences, all arts? 
Is it not the same with painting, at once the mother and 
daughter of physiognomy ? Is not this a science ? Yet how 

little is it so ! " This is proportion, that disproportion. 

This nature, truth, life, respiration in the very act. That is 

constraint, unnatural, mean, detestable." Thus far may be 

said and proved, by principles, which every scholar is capable 
of comprehending, retaining, and communicating. But where 
is the academical lecturer who shall inspire the genius of paint- 
ing ? As soon might books and instruction inspire the genius 
of poetry. How infinitely does he, who is painter or poet 
born, soar beyond all written rule ? But must he, because he 
possesses feelings and powers which are not to be reduced to 
rule, he pronounced unscientific. 

So in physiognomy ; physiognomonical truth may, to a cer- 
tain degree, be defined, communicated by signs, and words, as 
a science. We may affirm, this is sublime understanding. 
Such a trait accompanies gentleness, such another wild pas- 
sion. This is the look of contempt, this of innocence. Where 
such signs are, such and such properties reside. By rule may 
we prescribe — " In this manner must thou study. This is the 
route thou must pursue. Then wilt thou arrive at that know- 
ledge, which I, thy teacher, have acquired." 

But will not the man of experience, the man of exquisite 
organs, in this, as in other subjects, called scientific, see fur- 
ther, deeper, and more distinctly ? Will he not soar ? Will 
he not make numerous remarks, that are not reducible to 
rule ; and shall such exceptions prevent us from calling that 
a science which may be reduced to rule, and communicated by 
signs ? Is not this common to all science as well as to phy- 
siognomy ? Of which of the sciences are the limits defined, 
where nothing is left to taste, feeling, and genius? We 
should contemn that science, could such a science exist. 

Albert Durer surveyed and measured men : Raphael inea- 


sured men still more feelingly than Albert Durer. The former 
drew with truth, according to rule ; the latter followed his ima- 
gination ; yet was nature often depicted by him with not less 
exactness. Scientific physiognomy would measure like Durer, 
the physiognomy of genius like Raphael. In the mean time, 
the more observation shall be extended, language enriched, 
drawing improved ; the more man shall be studied by man, to 
him the most interesting and the finest of studies ; the more 
physiognomy shall become scientific, accurately defined, and 
capable of being taught, the more it shall then become the 
science of sciences ; and, in reality, no longer a science, but 
sensibility, a prompt and convincing inspection of the human 
heart. Then shall folly busy herself to render it scientific, to 
dispute, write, and lecture on its principles ; and then too, shall 
it no longer be, what it ought, the first of human sciences. 

The obligations existing between science and genius, and 
genius and science, are mutual. In what manner, therefore, 
must I act 1 Shall I render physiognomy a science, or shall I 
apply only to the eyes, and to the heart, and, occasionally, 
whisper to the indolent spectator, lest he should contemn me 
for a fool — " Look ! Here is something which you under- 
stand, only recollect there are others who understand still 
more I" 

I shall conclude this fragment with a parody on the words 
of one, who, among other uncommon qualities with which he 
was endowed, had the gift of discerning spirits ; by which he 
could discover, from the appearance alone, whether one whom 
no art could heal, had faith enough to become whole. — " For 
we know in part, and our extracts and commentaries are in 
part ; but when that which is perfect is come, then these frag- 
ments shall be done away. As yet, what I write is the stam- 
mering of a child ; but when I shall become a man, these will 
appear the fancies and labours of a child. For now we see 
the glory of man, through a glass, darkly ; soon we shall see 
face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know, even 
as, also, I am known, by him, from whom, and through whom, 
and in whom are all things ; to whom be glory, for ever and 
ever. Amen !" 



Whether a more certain, more accurate, more extensive, 
and thereby, a more perfect knowledge of man, be, or be not, 
profitable ; whether it be, or be not, advantageous to gain a 
knowledge of internal qualities from external form and feature, 
is a question most deserving of inquiry and place among these 

This may be classed first as a general question, whether 
knowledge, its extension and increase, be of consequence to 
man ? I imagine this question can receive but one answer, 
from all unprejudiced persons. 

Man must be ignorant of his own nature, and of the nature 
of things in general, as well as the relation there is between 
human happiness and his powers and passions, the effects of 
which so continually present themselves to his eyes; must 
indeed be prejudiced to excessive absurdity, if he does not 
perceive that the proper use of every power, and the proper 
gratification of every passion, is good, profitable, and insepa- 
rable from his welfare. 

As certainly as man is possessed of corporeal strength, and 
a will for the exercise of that strength, so certain is it that 
to exercise strength is necessary. As certain as he has the 
faculties, power, and will, to love, so certain is it that it is 
necessary he should love. Equally certain is it that, if man 
has the faculties, power, and will, to obtain wisdom, that he 
should exercise those faculties for the attainment of wisdom. 
How paradoxical are those proofs that science and knowledge 
are detrimental to man, and that a rude state of ignorance is 
to be preferred to all that wisdom can teach ! 

I here dare, and find it necessary, to affirm that physi- 
ognomy has at least as many claims of essential advantage as 
are granted by. men, in general, to other sciences. 

Further ; with how much justice may we not grant prece- 
dency to that science which teaches the knowledge of men ? 
What object is so important to man as man himself? What 
knowledge can more influence his happiness than the know- 


ledge of himself? This advantageous knowledge is the pecu- 
liar province of physiognomy. 

Of all the knowledge obtained by man, of all he can learn 
by reasoning on his mind, his heart, his qualities and powers, 
those proofs which are obtained by the aid of the senses, and 
that knowledge which is founded on experience, has ever been 
the most indisputable, and the most advantageous. Who, 
then, among philosophers will not prefer the experimental 
part of psychology to all other knowledge ? 

Therefore has physiognomy the threefold claims of the ad- 
vantages arising from knowledge, in general, the knowledge of 
man, in particular, and, especially, of this latter knowledge, 
reduced to experiment. 

Whoever would wish perfect conviction of the advantages 
of physiognomy, let him, but for a moment, imagine that all 
physiognomonical knowledge and sensation were lost to the 
world. What confusion, what uncertainty, and absurdity 
must take place, in millions of instances, among the actions of 
men ! How perpetual must be the vexation of the eternal 
uncertainty in all which we shall have to transact with each 
other, and how infinitely would probability, which depends 
upon a multitude of circumstances, more or less distinctly 
perceived, be weakened by this privation ! From how vast a 
number of actions, by which men are honoured and benefited, 
must they then desist ! 

Mutual intercourse is the thing of most consequence to 
mankind, who are destined to live in society. The knowledge 
of man is the soul of this intercourse, that which imparts to it 
animation, pleasure and profit. This knowledge is, in some 
degree, inseparable from, because necessary to, all men. And 
how shall we with greater ease and certainty acquire this 
knowledge than by the aid of physiognomy, understood in its 
most extensive sense, since, in so many of his actions, he is 
incomprehensible 2 

Let the physiognomist observe varieties, make minute dis- 
tinctions, establish signs, and invent words, to express these 
his remarks ; form general, abstract, propositions ; extend and 
improve physiognomonical knowledge, language, and sensation. 


and thus will the uses and advantages of physiognomy pro- 
gressively increase. 

Let any man suppose himself a statesman, a divine, a cour 
tier, a physician, a merchant, friend, father, or husband, and 
he will easily conceive the advantages which he, in his sphere, 
may derive from physiognomonical science. For each of these 
stations, a separate treatise of physiognomy might be com- 

When we speak of the advantages of physiognomy, we must 
not merely consider that which, in the strictest sense, may be 
termed scientific, or what it might scientifically teach. We 
rather ought to consider it as combined with those immediate 
consequences which every endeavour to improve physiognomy 
will undoubtedly have, I mean the rendering of physiognomo- 
nical observation and sensation more vigilant and acute. 

As this physiognomonical sensation is ever combined with 
a lively perception of what is beautiful, and what deformed ; 
of what is perfect and what imperfect, (and where is the able 
writer on physiognomy who will not increase these feelings ?) 
how important, how extensive, must be the advantages of 
physiognomy ! How does my heart glow at the supposition 
that so high a sense of the sublime and beautiful, so deep an 
abhorrence of the base and deformed, shall be excited ; that 
all the charms of virtue shall actuate the man who examines 
physiognomonically ; and that he who, at present, has a sense 
of those charms, shall, then, so powerfully, so delightfully, so 
variously, so incessantly, be impelled to a still higher improve- 
ment of his nature ! 

Physiognomy is a source of the purest, the most exalted 
sensations : an additional eye, wherewith to view the manifold 
proofs of divine wisdom and goodness in the creation, and, 
while thus viewing unspeakable harmony and truth, to excite 
more ecstatic love for their adorable Author. Where the dark 
inattentive sight of the inexperienced perceives nothing, there 
the practical view of the physiognomist discovers inexhaus- 
tible fountains of delight, endearing, moral, and spiritual. It 
is the latter only who is acquainted with the least variable, 
most perspicuous, most significant, most eloquent, most beau- 


tiful of languages ; the natural language of moral and intel- 
lectual genius, of wisdom and virtue. He reads it in the 
countenances of those who are unconscious of their own native 
elocution. He can discover virtue, however concealed. With 
secret ecstacy, the philanthropic physiognomist discerns those 
internal motives, which would, otherwise, be first revealed in 
the world to come. He distinguishes what is permanent in 
the character from what is habitual, and what is habitual, 
from what is accidental. He, therefore, who reads man. in 
this language, reads him most accurately. 

Physiognomy unites hearts, and forms the most durable, 
the most divine, friendships ; nor can friendship discover a 
more solid rock of foundation than in the fair outlines, the 
noble features, of certain countenances. 

Physiognomy is the very soul of wisdom, since, beyond all 
expression, it elevates the mutual pleasures of intercourse, and 
whispers to the heart when it is necessary to speak, when to 
be silent ; when to forewarn ; when to excite ; when to con- 
sole, and when to reprehend. 

Physiognomy is the terror of vice. No sooner should phy- 
siognomonical sensation be awakened into action, than consis- 
torial chambers, cloisters, and churches, must become branded 
with excess of hypocritical tyranny, avarice, gluttony, and 
debauchery ; which, under the mask, and to the shame, of 
religion, have poisoned the welfare of mankind. The esteem, 
reverence, and love, which have hitherto been paid them, by 
the deluded people, would perish like autumnal leaves. The 
world would be taught that to consider such degraded, such 
pitiable forms, as saints, pillars of the church and state, friends 
of men, and teachers of religion, were blasphemy; 

To enumerate all the advantages of physiognomy would 
require a large treatise — a number of treatises, for the vari- 
ous classes of mankind. The most indisputable, though the 
least important, of these its advantages, are those the painter 
acquires ; who, if he be not a physiognomist, is nothing. The 
greatest is that of forming, conducting, and improving the 
human heart. I shall have frequent opportunities of making 
remarks in confirmation of the truth of what I have advanced. 


At present I shall only add, in conclusion of this too imperfect 
fragment, what I have been in part already obliged to say, 
that the imperfect physiognomonical knowledge I have ac- 
quired, and my increase of physiognomonical sensation, have 
daily been to me a source of indescribable profit. Nay, I will 
venture to add, they were to me indispensable, and that I could 
not, possibly, without their aid, have passed through life with 
the same degree of pleasure. 


Methinks I hear some worthy man exclaim, " Oh thou who 
hast ever hitherto lived the friend of religion and virtue, what 
is thy present purpose I What mischief shall not be wrought 
by this thy physiognomy ! Wilt thou teach man the unblessed 
art of judging his brother by the ambiguous expressions of his 
countenance ? Are there not already sufficient of censorious- 
ness, scandal, and inspection into the failings of others ? Wilt 
thou teach man to read the secrets of the heart, the latent 
feelings, and the various errors of thought ? 

" Thou dwellest upon the advantages of the science ; say est 
thou shalt teach men to contemplate the beauty of virtue, the 
hatefulness of vice, and, by these means, make them virtuous ; 
and that thou inspirest us with an abhorrence of vice, by 
obliging us to feel its external deformity. And what shall be 
the consequence ? Shall it not be that for the appearance, 
and not the reality, of goodness, man shall wish to be good I 
That, vain as he already is, acting from the desire of praise, 
and wishing only to appear what he ought determinately to 
be, he will yet become more vain, and will court the praise of 
men, not by words and deeds, alone, but by assumed looks and 
counterfeited forms? Oughtest thou not rather to weaken 
this already too powerful motive for human actions, and to 
strengthen a better ; to turn the eyes inward, to teach actual 
improvement, and silent innocence, instead of inducing him to 
reason on the outward, fair, expressions of goodness, or the 
hateful ones of wickedness !" 


OF th:e disadvantages 

This is a heavy accusation, and has great appearance of 
truth. Yet how easy is defence to me; and how pleasant, 
when my opponent accuses me from motives of philanthropy, 
and not of splenetic dispute ! 

The charge is twofold. Censoriousness and vanity. I teach 
men to slander each other, and to become hypocrites. 

I will answer these charges separately ; nor let it be sup- 
posed I have not often, myself, reflected on what they contain 
really objectionable, and felt it in all its force. 

The first relates to the possible abuse of this science. 
No good thing can be liable to abuse, till it first becomes a 
good thing; nor is there any actual good which is not the 
innocent cause of abuse. Shall we, therefore, wish that good 
should not exist \ 

All the feeble complaints concerning the possible, probable, 
or, if you will, inevitable, injurious effects, can only be allowed 
a certain weight. Whoever is just will not fix his attention, 
solely, on the weak side of the question. He will examine 
both sides ; and, when good preponderates, he will be satisfied, 
and endeavour, by all means in his power, to evade, or dimi- 
nish, the evil. 

Who better can inspire us with this heroic fortitude in favour 
of good, although attended by evil ; who better can cure us of 
pusillanimous anxieties, and dread of evil while in the pursuit 
of good, than the great Author and Founder of the noblest 
good ? Who, notwithstanding his affectionate love of mankind, 
his hatred of discord, and love of peace, so openly proclaimed, 
" I am not come to send peace on the earth, but a sword. 1 '' 

He was grieved at every ill effect of his mission, but was 
calm concerning every thing that was in itself good, and prt- 
ponderately good in its consequences. I, also, grieve for the 
ill effects of this book ; but I, also, will be calm, convinced of 
the great good which shall be the result. I clearly perceive, 
nor endeavour to conceal from myself, every disadvantage 
which shall, in all probability, occur, at least, for a time, and 
among those who content themselves with a slight taste of 
knowledge, whether human or divine. I continually keep 
every defect of the science in view, that I mav exert all n y 


powers to render it as harmless, and as profitable, as possible ; 
nor can this prospect of probable abuses, attendant on every 
good, on every divine work, induce me to desist ; being, as 1 
am, at each step, more firmly convinced that I am labouring to 
effect an excellent purpose, and that every man, who reads me 
with attention, and has not the corruptest of hearts, will rather 
be improved than injured. 

Thus far, generally, and now for a more particular answer 
to the first objection. 

1 teach no black art ; no nostrum, the secret of which I 
might have concealed, which is a thousand times injurious for 
once that it is profitable, the discovery of which is, therefore, 
so difficult. 

I do but teach a science, the most general, the most obvious, 
with which all men are acquainted, and state nvy feelings, ob- 
servations, and their consequences. 

We ought never to forget that the very purport of outward 
expression is to teach what passes in the mind, and that to 
deprive man of this source of knowledge were to reduce him to 
utter ignorance ; that every man is born with a certain portion 
of physiognomonical sensation, as certainly as that every man, 
who is not deformed, is born with two eyes ; that all men, in 
their intercourse with each other, form physiognomonical deci- 
sions, according as their judgment is more or less clear ; that 
it is well known, though physiognomy were never to be reduced 
to science, most men, in proportion as they have mingled with 
the world, derive some profit from their knowledge of mankind, 
even at the first glance ; and that the same effects were pro- 
duced long before this question was in agitation. Whether, 
therefore, to teach men to decide with more perspicuity and 
certainty, instead of confusedly ; to judge clearly with refined 
sensations, instead of rudely and erroneously, with sensations 
more gross ; and, instead of suffering them to wander in the 
dark, and venture abortive and injurious judgments, to teach 
them, by physiognomonical experiments, by the rules of pru- 
dence and caution, and the sublime voice of philanthropy, to 


mistrust, to be diffident, and slow to pronounce, where they 
imagine they discover evil ; whether this, I say, can be inju~ 
rious, I leave the world to determine. 

I here openly and loudly proclaim, that whoever disregards 
all my warnings, disregards the proofs and examples I give, 
by which he may preserve himself from error; whoever is 
deaf to the voice of philanthropy, and, like a madman with a 
naked sword, rushes headlong to assassinate his brother's good 
name, the evil must be upon his head. When his wickedness 
shall appear, and he shall be punished for his unpardonable 
offences against his brother, my soul shall not be polluted by 
his sin. 

I believe I may venture to affirm very few persons will, in 
consequence of this work, begin to judge ill of others who had 
not before been guilty of the practice. 

" This Jew has not the smallest respect for the legislature, 
or his superiors ; he scourges the people, who have done him 
no injury, with whips ; he goes to banquetings, wherever he is 
invited, and makes merry ; he is a very mischief maker ; and 
lately he said to his companions, I am not come to send peace, 

but a sword." What a judgment is here, from a partial 

view of the actions of Christ ! But view his physiognomy, not 
as he- has been depicted by Raphael, the greatest of painters, 
but by Holbein only, and if you have the smallest physiogno- 
monical sensation, oh ! with what certainty of conviction, will 
you immediately pronounce a judgment entirely the reverse ! 
You will find that these very accusations, strong as they seem 
in selection, are accordant to his great character, and worthy 
the Saviour of the world. 

Let us but well consider how much physiognomy discover,? 
to the skilful eye, with what loud-tongued certainty it speaks, 
how perfect a picture it gives of him who stands open to its 
inspection, and we, most assuredly, shall not have more, but 
less to fear, from its decisions, when the science shall have the 
good fortune to become more general, and shall have taught 
superior accuracy to the feelings of men. 



The second objection to physiognomy is that " it renders 
men vain, and teaches them to assume a plausible appear- 
ance." — When thou didst urge this, how great was the im- 
pression thy words made upon my heart ; and how afflicted am 
I to be obliged to answer thee, that this thy objection is ap- 
plicable only to an ideal, and innocent, and not an actual, and 
wicked world. 

The men thou wouldst reform are not children, who are 
good, and know not that they are so ; but men, who must from 
experience, learn to distinguish between good and evil ; men, 
who, to become perfect, must necessarily be taught their own 
noxious, and consequently their own beneficent qualities. Let, 
therefore, the desire of obtaining approbation from the good 
act in concert with the impulse to goodness. Let this be the 
ladder; or, if you please, the crutch to support tottering 
virtue. Suffer men to feel that God has ever branded vice 
with deformity, and adorned virtue with inimitable beauty. 
Allow man to rejoice when he perceives that his countenance 
improves in proportion as his heart is ennobled. Inform him 
only, that to be good from vain motives, is not actual good- 
ness, but vanity ; that the ornaments of vanity will ever be 
inferior and ignoble ; and that the dignified mien of virtue 
never can be truly attained, but by the actual possession of 
virtue, unsullied by the leaven of vanity. 

Beholdest thou some weeping youth, who has strayed from 
the paths of virtue, who, in his glass, reads his own degrada- 
tion, or reads it in the mournful eye of a tender, a discerning, 
a physiognomonical friend ; a youth who has studied the worth 
of human nature in the finest forms of the greatest masters. — 
Suffer his tears to flow — emulation is roused ; and he hence- 
forth determines to become a more worthy ornament of God's 
beauteous creation than he has hitherto been. 



To learn the lowest, the least difficult of sciences, at first 
appears an arduous undertaking, when taught by words or 
books, and not reduced to actual practice. What numerous 
dangers and difficulties might be objected against all the daily 
enterprises of men, were it not undeniable that they are 
performed with facility ! How might not the possibility of 
making a watch, and still more a watch worn in a ring, or of 
sailing over the vast ocean, and of numberless other arts and 
inventions be disputed, did we not behold them constantly 
practised ! How many arguments might be urged against the 
practice of physic ! And, though some of them may be unan- 
swerable, how many are the reverse ! 

We must not too hastily decide on the possible ease, or 
difficulty of any subject, which we have not yet examined. 
The simplest may abound with difficulties to him who has not 
made frequent experiments, and, by frequent experiments, the 
most difficult may become easy. This, I shall be answered, 
is the commonest of common place. Yet, on this depends 
the proof of the facility of the study of physiognomy, and 
of the intolerant folly of those who would rather contest the 
possibility of a science than profit by its reality. 

" Perhaps you have not examined it yourself, therefore can 
say nothing on the subject." — I have examined, and can cer- 
tainly say something. I own, I scarcely can ascribe to myself 
one of the numerous qualities which I hold necessary to the 
physiognomist. I am short-sighted, have little time, patience, 
or skill in drawing ; have but a small knowledge of the world ; 
am of a profession, which, notwithstanding all the opportu- 
nities it may give me of obtaining a knowledge of mankind, yet 
renders it impossible for me to make physiognomy my only 
study ; I want anatomical knowledge, copiousness and accuracy 
of language, which only can be obtained by continually reading 
the best winters, epic and dramatic, of all nations and ages. 
How great are these disadvantages ! Yet is there scarcely a 


day in which I do not add to, or confirm my former physiog- 
nomonical remarks. 

Whoever possesses the slightest capacity for, and has once 
acquired the habit of, observation and comparison, should he 
even be more deficient in requisites than I am, and should he 
see himself daily and incessantly surrounded by hosts of diffi- 
culties, will yet certainly be able to make a progress. 

We have men constantly before us. In the very smallest 
towns there is a continual influx and reflux of persons, of 
various and opposite characters. Among these, many are 
known to us without consulting physiognomy ; and that they 
are patient, or choleric, credulous, or suspicious, wise, or foolish, 
of moderate, or weak capacity, we are convinced past con- 
tradiction. Their countenances are as widely various as their 
characters, and these varieties of countenance may each be as 
accurately drawn as their varieties of character may be de- 

We have daily intercourse with men ; their interest and 
ours are connected. Be their dissimulation what it may, 
passion will, frequently, for a moment, snatch off the mask, 
and give us a glance, or at least, a side view, of their true 

Shall nature bestow on man the eye and ear, and yet have 
made her language so difficult, or so entirely unintelligible ? 
And not the eye and ear, alone ; but feeling, nerves, internal 
sensations ; and yet have rendered the language of the super- 
ficies so confused, so obscure ? She who has adapted sound to 
the ear, and the ear to sound ; she who has created light for 
the eye, and the eye for light ; she who has taught man, so 
soon, to speak, and to understand speech ; shall she have im- 
parted innumerable traits and marks of secret inclinations, 
powers, and passions, accompanied by perception, sensation, 
and an impulse to interpret them to his advantage ; and, after 
bestowing such strong incitements, shall she have denied him 
the possibility of quenching this his thirst of knowledge ; she 
who has given him penetration to discover sciences still more 
profound, though of much inferior utility ; who has taught him 
to trace out the paths, and measure the curves, of comets i 


who has put a telescope into his hand, that he may view the 
satellites of planets, and has endowed him with the capability 
of calculating their eclipses, through revolving ages ; shall so 
kind a mother have denied her children, her truth-seeking 
pupils, her noble philanthropic offspring, who are so willing to 
admire, and rejoice in, the majesty of the Most High, viewing 
man his master-piece, the power of reading the ever present, 
ever open, book of the human countenance ; of reading man, 
the most beautiful of all her works, the compendium of all 
things, the mirror of the Deity ? 

Canst thou, man of a sound understanding, believe this can 
be so ? Canst thou credit such accusations against the most 
affectionate of mothers \ Shall so much knowledge, with which 
thou mayest dispense, be bestowed upon thee ; and shalt thou 
have been denied that which is of most importance ? 

Awake, view man in all his infinite forms. Look, for thou 
mayest eternally learn ; shake off thy sloth, and behold. Me- 
ditate on its importance. Take resolution to thyself, and the 
most difficult shall become easy. 

Awake to the conviction of the necessity of the knowledge 
of man, and be persuaded that this knowledge may be ac- 
quired ; so shall recurring examples, and increasing industry, 
smooth the path of knowledge. 

The grand secret of simplifying science consists in analyz- 
ing, in beginning with what is easy, and proceeding progres- 
sively. By this method, miracles will at length be wrought. 
The mountain of knowledge must be climbed step by step. 

Which of the sciences, surrounded as they all are with dif- 
ficulties, has not been highly improved by recurring observa- 
tion, reflection, and industry ? 

When I come to speak of the method in which physiognomy 
ought, probably, to be studied, the intelligent reader will be 
able to decide whether improvement in this science be so dif- 
ficult, and impossible, as so many, from such opposite reasons> 
have pretended. 



This fragment ought to be one of the longest in the whole 
work, although it will be one of the shortest. Not the most 
copious volume would be sufficient to propound, and obviate, 
all the numberless objections with which physiognomy is sur- 

All the objections brought against it, and certainly all are 
not brought which might be, some of which are true, and 
many false, concur, at least, in proving the general conviction 
of the difficulties which attend this inquiry into the effects of 

I do not believe that all the adversaries of physiognomy can 
conjure up so many difficulties as will soon present themselves 
to the philosophical physiognomist himself. A thousand times 
have I been dismayed at their number and variety, and almost 
persuaded to desist from all further inquiry. I was, however, 
continually encouraged and confirmed, in my pursuits, by those 
certain, undeniable, proofs I had collected, and by thousands 
of examples, which no single fact could destroy. These gave 
me fortitude, and determined me to vanquish a part of my 
difficulties, and calmly to leave those which I found uncon- 
querable, until some future opportunity might afford me the 
means of reconciling so many apparent contradictions. 

There is a peculiar circumstance attending the starting of 
difficulties. There are some who possess the particular gift of 
discovering and inventing difficulties, without number or limits, 
on the most common and easy subjects. I could cite many 
such persons who possess this gift in a very extraordinary 
degree. Their character is very remarkable, and determinate. 
In other respects they are excellent people. They may be the 
salt, but cannot be the food, of society. I admire their talents, 
yet should not wish for their friendship, were it possible they 
should desire mine. I shall be pardoned this short digression. 
I now return to the difficulties of physiognomy ; and, innumer- 
able as they are, I shall be brief, because it not being my in- 
tention to cite them all in this place, the most important wil] 


occasionally be noticed, and answered, in the course of the 
work. Scarcely a fragment will be written in which the authoi 
and reader will not have occasion to remark difficulties. Many 
of these difficulties will be noticed in the fragment, which 
treats on the character of the physiognomist, (p. 62). I have 
an additional motive to be brief, which is, that most of these 
difficulties are included in — 

The indescribable minuteness of innumerable traits of cha- 
racter — or the impossibility of seizing, expressing, and analyzing 
certain sensations and observations. 

Nothing can be more certain than that the smallest shades, 
which are scarcely discernible to an inexperienced eye, fre- 
quently denote total opposition of character. Almost every 
succeeding page will afford opportunity of making this remark. 
How wonderfully may the expression of countenance and cha- 
racter be altered by a small inflexion or diminishing, lengthen- 
ing or sharpening, even though but of a hairs breadth ! Who- 
ever wishes for immediate conviction of this truth, need but be 
at the trouble to take five or six shades of the same counte- 
nance, with all possible accuracy, and afterwards, as carefully 
reduce and compare them to each other. 

How difficult, how impossible, must this variety of the same 
countenance, even in the most accurate of the arts of imita- 
tion, render precision ! And the importance of precision to 
physiognomy has, by numerous reasons, before been proved. 

How often does it happen that the seat of character is so 
hidden, so enveloped, so masked, that it can only be caught in 
certain, and, perhaps, uncommon positions of the countenance, 
which will again be changed, and the signs all disappear, before 
they have made any durable impression ! Or, supposing the 
impression made, these distinguishing traits may be so dif- 
ficult to seize, that it shall be impossible to paint, much less 
to engrave, or describe them by language. 

This may likewise happen to the most fixed, determinate, 
and decisive marks. Numberless of these can neither be de- 
scribed nor imitated. How many, even, are not to be retained 
by the imagination ! How many, that are rather felt than 
seen ! Who shall describe, who delineate, the cheering, the 


enlightening ray ; who the look of love ; who the soft benig- 
nant vibration of the benevolent eye ; who the twilight, and 
the day, of hope ; who the internal strong efforts of a mind, 
wrapt in gentleness and humility, to effect good, to diminish 
evil, and to increase present and eternal happiness ; who all 
the secret impulses and powers, collected in the aspect of the 
defender, or enemy, of truth ; of the bold friend, or the subtle 
foe, of wisdom ; who " the poet's eye, in a fine phrenzy rolling, 
glancing from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, while 
imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown ; 11 who 
shall all this delineate, or describe ? Can charcoal paint fire, 
chalk light, or can colours live and breathe 

It is with physiognomy as with all other objects of taste, 
literal, or figurative, of sense, or of spirit. We can feel, but 
cannot explain. The essence of every organized body is, in 
itself, an invisible power. It is mind. Without this incom- 
prehensible principle of life, there is neither intelligence, ac- 
tion, nor power. "The world seeth not, knoweth not, the 
spirit." Oh ! how potent is this truth, whether in declama- 
tion it be expressed with insipidity or enthusiasm, from the 
Holy Spirit, that in person inspired the apostles and evan- 
gelists of the Lord, to the spirit of the most insignificant 
being ! The world seeth it not, and knoweth it not. This is 
the most general proposition possible. The herd satiate them- 
selves with words without meaning, externals without power, 
body without mind, and figure without essence. Overlooked 
as it has been by mere literal readers, who are incapable of 
exalting themselves to the great general sense of the word of 
God, and who have applied the text to some few particular 
cases, though it be the key to nature and revelation, though it 
be itself the revelation of revelation, the very soul of know- 
ledge, and the secret of secrets. " It is the spirit that maketh 
alive, the flesh profiteth nothing." 

Since likewise, (which who will or can deny ?) since all flesh 
is valued according to the spirit within ; since it is the spirit 
alone of which the physiognomist is in search, endeavouring to 
discover, portray, and describe ; how difficult must it be for 
him to delineate, by words or images, the best, most volatile,, 


and spiritual part, to those who have neither eyes nor ears ! 
Words and images are but a still grosser kind of flesh and 


What I have here said can only be instructive and intelli- 
gible to a few readers, but those few will find much in this 
passage whereon to meditate. 
Let us proceed. 

How many thousand accidents, great and small, physical and 
moral ; how many secret incidents, alterations, passions ; how 
often will dress, position, light and shade, and innumerable 
discordant circumstances, show the countenance so disadvan- 
tageously, or, to speak more properly, betray the physiognomist 
into a false judgment, on the true qualities of the countenance 
and character ! How easily may these occasion him to over- 
look the essential traits of character, and form his judgment 
on what is wholly accidental ! 

" The wisest man, when languid, will look like a fool," says 
Zimmermann ; and he may be right, if his observation extends 
no further than the actual state of the muscular parts of the 

To cite one very common instance, out of a hundred, how 
surprisingly may the small pox, during life, disfigure the coun- 
tenance ! How may it destroy, confuse or render the most 
decisive traits imperceptible ! 

I shall not here enumerate the difficulties which the most 
accurate observer has to encounter in dissimulation ; I perhaps 
may notice these in a separate fragment. 

There is one circumstance, however, which I must not omit 
to mention. 

The best, the greatest, the most philosophical physiognomist 
is still but man ; I do not here allude to those general errors 
from which he cannot be exempt ; but that he is a prejudiced 
man, and that it is necessary he should be as unprejudiced as 
God himself. 

How seldom can he avoid viewing all objects through the 
medium of his own inclinations or aversions, and judging 
accordingly ! Obscure recollections of pleasure or displeasure, 
which this or that countenance have by various incidents im- 


pressed upon his mind, impressions left on his memory, by 
some object of love or hatred — how easily, nay, necessarily, 
must these influence his judgment ! Hence, how many diffi- 
culties must arise to physiognomy, so long as physiognomy 
shall continue to be the study of men and not of angels ! 

We will therefore grant the opposer of physiognomy all he 
can ask, although we do not live without hope that many 
of the difficulties shall be resolved, which, at first, appeared to 
the reader, and the author, inexplicable. 

Yet how should I conclude this fragment without unbur- 
dening my heart of an oppressive weight, something of which, 
perhaps, I have before given the reader to understand — 

That is, that " many weak and unphilosophical minds, who 
never during life have made, nor ever will make, a deep obser- 
vation, may be induced, from reading my writings, to imagine 
themselves physiognomists." 

" He that hath ears to hear let him hear." 

As soon might ye become physiognomists by reading my 
book, read and pore however industriously you please, as you 
would become great painters, by copying the drawings of 
Preysler, or reading the works of Hagedorn, or Fresnoy ; 
great physicians, by studying Boerhaave ; or great statesmen, 
by learning Grotius, Puffendorf, and Montesquieu, by rote. 


In the fragment, (p. SI), we have noticed how general, yet 
obscure and indeterminate, physiognomonical sensation is : in 
this we shall speak of the rarity of the true spirit of physiog- 
nomonical observation. As few are the persons who can think 
physiognomonically, as those who can feel physiognomonically 
are numerous. 

Nothing can appear more easy than to observe, yet nothing 
is more uncommon. By observe I mean to consider a subject 
in all its various parts : first to consider each part separately, 
and, afterwards, to examine its analogy with contiguous or 


other possible objects ; to conceive and retain the various pro- 
perties which delineate, define, and constitute the essence of 
the thing under consideration ; to have clear ideas of these 
properties, individually and collectively, as contributing to 
form a whole, so as not to confound them with other proper- 
ties, or things, however great the resemblance. 

We need only attend to the different judgments of a number 
of men, concerning the same portrait, to be convinced of the 
general want of a spirit of accurate observation : nor has any 
thing so effectually, so unexpectedly convinced me, of the ex 
treme rarity of the true spirit of observation, even among men 
of genius, in famed, and fame-worthy observers, in far greater 
physiognomists than I can ever hope to become ; nothing, I 
say, has so perfectly convinced me of the rarity of this spirit, 
as the confounding of widely different portraits and characters, 
which, notwithstanding their difference, have been mistaken 
for the same. To make erroneous remarks is a very common 
thing ; and, probably, has often befell myself. This all tends 
to prove how uncommon an accurate spirit of observation is, 
and how often it forsakes even those who have been most 
assiduous in observing. 

I shudder when I remember the supposed likenesses which 
are found between certain portraits and shades, and the living 
originals. How many men suppose each caricature a true 
portrait, or, probably, sometimes, take it for an ideal ! * In 
such judgments 1 perceive a most perfect analogy to the judg- 
ments of the most common observers on character. Each 
slander, in which there is but a shade of truth, is as usually 
supposed to be the full and exact truth, as are so many 
thousand wretched portraits supposed to be real and exact 

Henee originate many pitiable physiognomonical decisions ; 
hence are deduced so many apparently well-founded objections 
against physiognomy, objections that, in reality, are false. 

* By Caricature, the Author appears to mean nothing more than an 
imperfect drawing, and by Ideal, sometimes perfect beauty, sometimes a 
fancy piece. These words occur so frequently, that they must inevitably 
be often retaintd in the translation. T. 


We call that likeness which is unlike, because we are not 
accustomed to observation sufficiently acute. 

I cannot sufficiently caution physiognomists against haste 
and erroneous comparisons and suppositions ; or to wait till 
they are well convinced that they have not. imagined two 
different countenances to resemble each other, or men which 
are unlike to be the same. 

I shall, therefore, take every opportunity in this work, to 
render the reader attentive to the smallest, scarcely discerni- 
ble, variations of certain countenances and traits, which, on a 
first view, might appear to be alike. 



Fig. 1, 2. — Alike as these heads may appear to an inex- 
perienced eye, how different are they to an observer ! A 
countenance so noble as that of Anson can never be entirely 
rendered mean, or wholly unresembling. — Who that had once 
beheld Anson, alive or well painted, would, at viewing these 
caricatures, exclaim Anson ! — Yet, on the contrary, how few 
would pronounce — Not Anson ! — How few will be able accu- 
rately to perceive and define the very essential differences 
between these faces ! The observer will see where the unob- 
servant are blind ; and while the latter are dumb, will pronounce 
the forehead of 2 is more thoughtful and profound than that 
of 1 — 1 forms no |uch deep consistent plans as 2 — The eye- 
brows of 1 are more firm and closely knit than those of 2. — 
So likewise is the eye of 1 ; but that of 2 is more open and 
serene. The nose of 2 is something more compact, and, there- 
fore, more judicious, than 1 ; the mouth of 1 is awry, and 
somewhat small ; the chin of 2 is likewise more manly and 
noble than of 1. 

Fig. 3 to 6. — Four caricature profiles of broken Grecian 
busts, will, to many hasty observers, though they should not be 
whollv destitute of physiognomonical sensation, seem nearly 


alike in signification ; yet are they essentially different. The 
nose excepted, Fig. 3, has nothing in common with the rest ; 
the manly closing and firmness of the mouth, as little permits 
the physiognomonical observer to class this countenance with 
the others, as would the serious aspect, the arching and 
motion of the forehead, and its descent to the nose. Let any 
one further consider this descent of the forehead to the nose ; 
afterwards the nose itself, and the eye, in 4, 5, and 6. Let him 
compare them, and the scientific physiognomist will develope 
characters almost opposite. In the nose of 5, he will perceive 
more taste and understanding than in the rest ; the whole 
under part of the countenance, the general traits of volup- 
tuousness excepted, is, in each of them, different. 6 is the 
most sensual and effeminate of the whole, although it is de- 
prived of much of its grace by the ill-drawn mouth. 

Fig. 7^ 8. — Two drawings of the same profile : the difference 
between them is to the observer remarkable. Fig. 8 will appear 
to him, from the forehead, nose, and eyebrows, all of which are 
close, firm and sharp, as betokening acute penetration and 
deep thought. Fig. 7, will be found more cheerful. In both 
he will perceive the traits of mind and genius. 

Fig. 9, 10. — Are two shades of the same countenance, 
which, however, bear a greater resemblance than different 
shades usually do. Many would declare them very like each 
other. Yet how many varieties may not be discovered by the 
accurate observer ! The mouth, in 9, by the easy unconstrained 
manner in which it is closed, bespeaks a calm, placid, settled, 
effeminate mind. In 10, on the contrary, if not a character 
directly the reverse, essentially different^ by the negligent 
dropping of the under lip. How few will be able to discover, 
before they are told, in the scarcely visible sharpening of the 
bone above the eye, of 10, the extreme penetration it denotes! 

Fig. 11, 12. — However similar these two shades of the same 
person may appear ; to the physiognomist, that is, to a rare 
and accurate observer, they are not so. In the forehead, the 
bones above the eye, and the descent to the nose, in 1 2, there 
is something more of understanding than in the same parts of 
11, although the difference is scarcely that of a hair's breadth. 


How few will fi nd in the bending ^ j^ rf ^ ^ af „ 

i^in P !S^ rt tT ,rib?,,tyS ^ ^^ Undei ' 
tr. w 2 11 "• oes not esca P e the Physiognomist, 

Fig. 1 to 6 -Have, to the unpractised, much resemblance. 
yet some of them have differences too vast to be imagined on 
a first view. The hasty observer will find some dissimilar, and 
the accurate all. 

1, Is benevolent. The forehead and nose betoken under- 
standing, but irresolution. 2, The caricature of an almost 
sublime countenance. The least experienced connoisseur will 
find much to approve. Tiy an error infinitely small, infinitely 
much is lost. Had the upper part of the forehead been a 
little more compact, more vigorously drawn, the acute ob- 
server could not then have perceived tokens of imbecility, 
which are now to him so visible, though so difficult to explain. 
S, All will discover, in this, goodness tinged with weakness. 
But that the marks of weakness are chiefly to be sou-lit in the 
arching of the forehead, and the outline of the chin, is only 
perceptible to the intuition of experience.* 4, The nose speaks 
taste and knowledge, the eye penetration. None but the 
physiognomist will remark dulness, and thoughtless haste, in 
the forehead and mouth. 5, Is, to general sensation, the pro 
file of a benevolent, but weak and ordinary man. The seat 
of weakness will be seen, by the physiognomist, in the fore- 
head, eye, and mouth. 6, Inanimate thoughtlessness will be 
universally perceived in this countenance. The experienced 
only will discover the peculiar insipidity of the mouth. 

Imbecility is the character common to Fig. 7 to 12. Yet 
how various are the modifications, definable only by the phy- 
siognomist ! And how little is explained by the general term 
imbecility, concerning heads so different ! 7, Has a noble nose 

• Der Gcubte intuitif 


with an almost common forenead. Were the back part of the 
eye less projecting, it would be much wiser. 8, Is more bene- 
volent and noble, more intelligent in the under part, and more 
weak in the upper. 9, Inanity with a mixture of contempt. 
1 0, The nose excepted, vacant and more perverse than all the 
other five. 11, The under half not vulgar, but the full fore- 
head denotes imbecility. In the mouth, only, are taste and 
understanding united. 12, A nose like this, which speaks a 
person of discernment, does not correspond with so foolish a 

Fig. 13 to 16. — Four additional profiles, in the Grecian style, 
a few remarks on which may show the inquiring reader how 
minute are traits which have great signification ; and how dif- 
ficult it is, to the inexperienced eye, not to confound things in 
themselves very dissimilar. 13, 14, Have a great resemblance 
to each other; as likewise have 15, 16. Physiognomonical 
sensation would generally pronounce them to be four sisters. 
The forehead of 14 will be found to possess a small superior 
degree of delicacy over that of 13 ; the forehead of 15 much 
inferior to 14, and the forehead of 16 still inferior to 15. The 
physiognomist will read more of affection in 16 than 15, and 
something less of delicacy ; and more of voluptuousness in 1 5 
than in 16. 

The converse of the proposition we have hitherto maintained 
will, in certain countenances, be true. The observer will per- 
ceive similarity in a hundred countenances which, to the inex- 
perienced, appear entirely dissimilar. 


All men have talents for all things, yet we may safely 
maintain very few have the determinate and essential talents. 

All men have talents for drawing. They can all learn to 
write, well or ill. Yet not an excellent draughtsman will be 
produced in ten thousand. The same may be affirmed of elo- 
quence, poetry, -and physiognomy. 

All men, who have eyes and ears, have talents to become 


physiognomists. Yet, not one in ten thousand can become an 
excellent physiognomist. 

It may therefore be of use to sketch the character of the 
true physiognomist, that those who are deficient in the requi- 
site talents may be deterred from the study of physiognomy. 
The pretended physiognomist, with a foolish head, and a wicked 
heart, is certainly one of the most contemptible and mischiev- 
ous creatures that crawls on God's earth. 

No one whose person is not well formed can become a good 
physiognomist. The handsomest painters were the greatest 
painters. Reubens, Vandyke, and Raphael, possessing three 
gradations of beauty, possessed three gradations of the genius 
of painting. The physiognomists of greatest symmetry are 
the best : as the most virtuous best can determine on virtue, 
and the just on justice, so can the most handsome coun- 
tenances on the goodness, beauty, and noble traits of the 
human countenance ; and, consequently, on its defects and 
ignoble properties. The scarcity of human beauty is a certain 
reason why physiognomy is so much decried, and finds so 
many opponents. 

No one, therefore, ought to enter the sanctuary of physi- 
ognomy who has a debased mind, an ill-formed forehead, a 
blinking eye, or a distorted mouth. " The light of the body 
is the eye ; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body 
shall be full of light ; but if thine eye be evil thy whole body 
shall be full of darkness : if, therefore, that light that is in thee 
be darkness, how great is that darkness !" 

Any one who would become a physiognomist cannot meditate 
too much on this text. 

Oh ! single eye, that beholdest all things as they are, seest 
nothing falsely, with glance oblique, nothing overlookest — Oh .' 
most perfect image of reason and wisdom — why do I say 
image ? Thou that art reason and wisdom themselves ; with- 
out thy resplendent light would all that appertains to physiog- 
nomy become dark ! 

Whoever does not, at the first aspect of any man, feel a 
certain emotion of affection or dislike, attraction or repulsion, 
never can become a physiognomist. 


Whoever studies art more than nature, and prefers what 
the painters call manner to truth of drawing ; whoever does 
not feel himself moved almost to tears, at beholding the ancient 
ideal beauty, and the present depravity of men and imitative 
art ; whoever views antique gems, and does not discover 
enlarged intelligence in Cicero ; enterprising resolution in 
Caesar ; profound thought in Solon ; invincible fortitude in 
Brutus ; in Plato godlike wisdom ; or, in modern medals, the 
height of human sagacity in Montesquieu ; in Haller the 
energetic contemplative look, and most refined taste ; the 
deep reasoner in Locke ; and the witty satirist in Voltaire, 
even at the first glance, never can become a physiognomist. 

Whoever does not dwell with fixed rapture on the aspect of 
benevolence in action, supposing itself unobserved ; whoever 
remains unmoved by the voice of innocence ; the guileless look 
of inviolated chastity: the mother contemplating her beau- 
teous sleeping infant ; the warm pressure of the hand of a 
friend, or his eye swimming in tears ; whoever can lightly tear 
himself from scenes like these, and turn them to ridicule, 
might much easier commit the crime of parricide than become 
a physiognomist. 

What then is required of the physiognomist I What should 
his inclinations, talents, qualities, and capabilities be ? 

His fii'st of requisites, as has, in part, already been remarked, 
should be a body well proportioned, and finely organized : accu- 
racy of sensation, capable of receiving the most minute out- 
ward impressions, and easily transmitting them faithfully to 
memory ; or, as I ought rather to say, impressing them upon 
the imagination, and the fibres of the brain. His eye, in par- 
ticular, must be excellent, clear, acute, rapid, and firm. 

Precision in observation is the very soul of physiognomy. 
The physiognomist must possess a most delicate, swift, certain, 
most extensive spirit of observation. To observe is to be 
attentive, so as to fix the mind on a particular object, which 
it selects, or may select, for consideration, from a number of 
surrounding objects. To be attentive is to consider some one 
particular object, exclusively of all others, and to analyze, con- 
sequently, to distinguish, its peculiarities. To observe, to be 


attentive, to distinguish what is similar, what dissimilar, to 
discover proportion, and disproportion, is the office of the 

Without an accurate, superior, and extended understanding, 
the physiognomist will neither be able rightly to observe nor 
to compare and class his observations ; much less to draw the 
necessary conclusions. Physiognomy is the highest exercise 
of the understanding, the logic of corporeal varieties. 

The true physiognomist unites to the clearest and profound- 
est understanding the most lively, strong, comprehensive ima- 
gination, and a fine and rapid wit. Imagination is necessary 
to impress the traits with exactness, so that they may be 
renewed at pleasure ; and to range the pictures in the mind 
as perfectly as if they still were visible, and with all possible 

Wit * is indispensable to the physiognomist, that he may 
easily perceive the resemblances that exist between objects. 
Thus, for example, he sees a head or forehead possessed of 
certain characteristic marks. These marks present themselves 
to his imagination, and wit discovers to what they are similar. 
Hence greater precision, certainty, and expression, are im- 
parted to his images. He must have the capacity of uniting 
the approximation of each trait, that he remarks ; and, by the 
aid of wit, to define the degrees of this approximation. With- 
out wit, highly improved by experience, it will be impossible 
for him to impart his observations with perspicuity. Wit 
alone creates the physiognomonical language ; a language, at 
present, so unspeakably poor. No one who is not inexhaustibly 
copious in language can become a physiognomist ; and the 
highest possible copiousness is poor, comparatively with the 
wants of physiognomy. All that language can express, the 
physiognomist must be able to express. He must be the 
creator of a new language, which must be equally precise and 
alluring, natural and intelligible. 

All the productions of art, taste, and mind ; all vocabula- 

* Wit is here used in a less discriminating, and therefore a much mor* 
general sense, than is usually appropriated to it in the English languagft. 



ries of all nations, all the kingdoms of nature, must obey his 
command, must supply his necessities. 

The art of drawing is indispensable, if he would be precise 
in his definitions, and accurate in his decisions. Drawing is 
the first, most natural, and most unequivocal language of 
physiognomy ; the best aid of the imagination, the only means 
of preserving and communicating numberless peculiarities, 
shades, and expressions, which are not by words, or any other 
mode, to be described. The physiognomist who cannot draw 
readily, accurately, and characteristically, will be unable to 
make, much less to retain, or communicate, innumerable ob- 

Anatomy is indispensable to him ; as also is physiology, or 
the science of the human body, in health ; not only that he 
may be able to remark any disproportion, as well in the solid 
as the muscular parts, but that he may likewise be capable of 
naming these parts in his physiognomonical language. He 
must further be accurately acquainted with the temperaments 
of the human body. Not only its different colours and ap- 
pearances, occasioned by the mixture of the blood, but also 
the constituent parts of the blood itself, and their different 
proportions. Still more especially must be understood the 
external symptoms of the constitution, relative to the nervous 
system, for on this more depends than even on the knowledge 
of the blood. 

How profound an adept ought he to be in the knowledge 
of the human heart, and the manners of the world ! How 
thoroughly ought he to inspect, to feel himself ! That most 
essential, yet most difficult of all knowledge, to the physiogno- 
mist, ought to be possessed by him in all possible perfection. 
In proportion only as he knows himself will he be enabled to 
know others. 

Not only is this self-knowledge, this studying of man, by the 
study of his own heart, with the genealogy and consanguinity 
of inclinations and passions, their various symptoms and 
changes, necessary to the physiognomist, for the foregoing 
causes, but also for an additional reason. 

" The peculiar shades" (I here cite the words of one of the 


critics on my first essay) — " the peculiar shades of feeling, 
which most affect the observer of any object, frequently have 
relation to his own mind, and will be soonest remarked by him 
in proportion as they sympathize with his own powers. They 
will affect him most, according to the manner in which he is 
accustomed to survey the physical and moral world. Many 
therefore of his observations are applicable only to the observer 
himself ; and, however strongly they may be conceived by him, 
he cannot easily impart them to others. • Yet these minute 
observations influence his judgment. For this reason, the 
physiognomist must, if he knows himself, which he in justice 
ought to do before he attempts to know others, once more 
compare his remarks with his own peculiar mode of thinking, 
and separate those which are general from those which are 
individual, and appertain to himself." I shall make no com- 
mentary on this important precept. I have given a similar 
one in the fragment on the difficulties of studying physiognomy, 
and in other places. 

I shall here only repeat that an accurate and profound 
knowledge of his own heart is one of the most essential quali- 
ties in the character of the physiognomist. 

Reader, if thou hast not often blushed at thyself, even 
though thou shouldest be the best of men, for the best of men 
is but man ; if thou hast not often stood with downcast eyes, 
in presence of thyself and others ; if thou hast not dared to 
confess to thyself, and to confide to thy friend, that thou art 
conscious the seeds of every vice are latent in thy heart ; if, 
in the gloomy calm of solitude, having no witness but God 
and thy own conscience, thou hast not a thousand times 
sighed and sorrowed for thyself; if thou wantest the power 
to observe the progress of the passions, from their very com- 
mencement ; to examine what the impulse was which deter- 
mined thee to good or ill, and to avow the motive to God and 
thy friend, to whom thou mayest thus confess thyself, and who 
also may disclose the recesses of his soul to thee : a friend 
who shall stand before thee the representative of man and 
God, and in whose estimation thou also shalt be invested with 
the same sacred character; a friend in whom thou mayest 


see thy very soul, and who shall reciprocally behold himself in 
thee ; if, in a word, thou art not a man of worth, thou never 
canst learn to observe, or know men well ; thou never canst 
be, never wilt be, worthy of being a good physiognomist. 
— If thou wishest not that the talent of observation should 
be a torment to thyself and an evil to thy brother, how good. 
how pure, how affectionate, how expanded, ought thy heart to 
be ! How mayest thou ever discover the marks of benevo- 
lence and mild forgiveness, if thou thyself art destitute of 
such gifts ? How, if philanthropy does not make thine eye 
active, how mayest thou discern the impressions of virtue and 
the marks of the sublimest sensations ? How often wilt thou 
overlook them in a countenance disfigured by accident ? Sur- 
rounded thyself by mean passions, how often will such false 
observers bring false intelligence I Put far from thee self-in- 
terest, pride, and envy, otherwise " thine eye will be evil, and 
thy whole body full of darkness." Thou wilt read vices on 
that forehead whereon virtue is written, and wilt accuse others 
of those errors and failings of which thy own heart accuses thee. 
Whoever bears any resemblance to thine enemy, will by thee 
be accused of all those failings and vices with which thy ene- 
my is loaded by thy own partiality and self-love. Thine eye 
will overlook the beauteous traits, and magnify the discordant. 
Thou wilt behold nothing but caricature and disproportion. 

I hasten to a conclusion. 

That the physiognomist should know the world, that he 
should have intercourse with all manner of men, in all various 
ranks and conditions, that he should have travelled, sliould 
possess extensive knowledge, a thorough acquaintance with 
artists, mankind, vice and virtue, the wise and the foolish, and 
particularly with children, together with a love of literature, 
and a taste for painting and the other imitative arts ; I say, 
can it need demonstration that all these and much more are to 
him indispensable? — To sum up the whole; to a well formed, 
well organized body, the perfect physiognomist must unite an 
acute spirit of observation, a lively fancy, an excellent wit, 
and, with numerous propensities to the arts and sciences, a 
strong, benevolent, enthusiastic, innocent heart ; a heart con- 


fident in itself, and free from the passions inimical to man. No 
one, certainly, can read the traits of magnanimity, and the 
high qualities of the mind, who is not himself capable of mag- 
nanimity, honourable thoughts, and sublime actions. 

I have pronounced judgment against myself in writing these 
characteristics of the physiognomist. Not false modesty, but 
conscious feeling, impels me to say I am as distant from the 
true physiognomist as heaven is from earth. I am but the 
fragment of a physiognomist, as this work is but the fragment 
of a system of physiognomy. 


One of the strongest objections to the certainty of phy- 
siognomy is, that the best physiognomists often judge very 

It may be proper to make some remarks on this objection. 

Be it granted the physiognomist often errs ; that is to say, 
his discernment errs, not the countenance — but to conclude 
there is no such science as physiognomy, because physiogno- 
mists err, is the same thing as to conclude there is no reason, 
because there is much false reasoning. 

To suppose that, because the physiognomist has made some 
erroneous decisions, he has no physiognomonical discernment, 
is equal to supposing that a man, who has committed some 
mistakes of memory, has no memory ; or, at best, that his 
memory is very weak. We must be less hasty. We must 
first inquire in what proportion his memory is faithful, how 
often it has failed, how often been accurate. The miser may 
perform ten acts of charity : must we therefore affirm he is 
charitable ? Should we not rather inquire how much he might 
have given, and how often it has been his duty to give ? — The 
virtuous man may have ten times been guilty, but, before he 
is condemned, it ought to be asked, in how many hundred 
instances he has acted uprightly. He who games must oftener 
lose than he who refrains from gaming. He who slides or 


skaits upon the ice is in danger of many a fall, and of being 
laughed at by the less adventurous spectator. Whoever fre- 
quently gives alms is liable, occasionally, to distribute his 
bounties to the unworthy. He, indeed, who never gives, can- 
not commit the same mistake, and may, truly, vaunt of his 
prudence, since he never furnishes opportunities for deceit. In 
like manner he who never judges never can judge falsely. The 
physiognomist judges oftener than the man who ridicules phy- 
siognomy, consequently, must oftener err than he who never 
risks a physiognomonical decision. 

Which of the favourable judgments of the benevolent phy- 
siognomist may not be decried as false ? Is he not himself a 
mere man, however circumspect, upright, honourable and 
exalted he may be ; a man who has in himself the root of all 
evil, the germ of every vice ; or, in other words, a man whose 
most worthy propensities, qualities, and inclinations, may 
occasionally be overstrained, wrested, and warped I 

You behold a meek man, who, after repeated and continued 
provocations to wrath, persists in silence; who, probably, 
never is overtaken by anger, when he himself alone is injured. 
The physiognomist can read his heart, fortified to bear and 
forbear, and immediately exclaims, behold the most amiable, 
the most unconquerable, gentleness! — You are silent — you 
laugh — you leave the place, and say, " Fye on such a physiog- 
nomist ! How full of wrath have I seen this man V — When 
was it that you saw him in wrath ? — Was it not when some 
one had mistreated his friend? — " Yes, and he behaved like a 
frantic man in defence of this friend, which is proof sufficient 
that the science of physiognomy is a dream, and the physiog- 
nomist a dreamer." — But who is in an error, the physiognomist 
or his censurer ? — The wisest man may sometimes utter folly 
— this the physiognomist knows, but, regarding it not, reveres 
and pronounces him a wise man. — You ridicule the decision, 
for you have heard this wise man say a foolish thing. — Once 
more, who is in an error ? — The physiognomist does not judge 
from a single incident, and often not from several combining 
incidents. — Nor does he, as a physiognomist, judge only by 
actions. He observes the propensities, the character, the 


essential qualities, ami powers, which, often, are apparently 
contradicted by individual actions. 

Again — he who seems stupid or vicious, may yet probably 
possess indications of a good understanding, and propensi- 
ties to every virtue. Should the beneficent eye of the physiog- 
nomist, who is in search of good, perceive these qualities, and 
announce them ; should he not pronounce a decided judgment 
against the man, he immediately becomes a subject of laugh- 
ter. Yet how often may dispositions to the most heroic virtue 
be there buried ! How often may the fire of genius lay deeply 
smothered beneath the embers ! — Wherefore do you so anxi- 
ously, so attentively, rake among these ashes ? — Because here 
is warmth — notwithstanding that at the first, second, third, 
fourth raking, dust only will fly in the eyes of the physiogno 
mist and spectator. The latter retires laughing, relates the 
attempt, and makes others laugh also. The former may per- 
haps patiently wait and warm himself by the flame he has 
excited. Innumerable are the instances in which the most 
excellent qualities are overgrown and stifled by the weeds of 
error. Futurity shall discover why, and the discovery shall 
not be in vain. The common unpractised eye beholds only a 
desolate wilderness. Education, circumstances, necessities, 
stifle every effort towards perfection. The physiognomist in- 
spects, becomes attentive, and waits. He sees and observes 
a thousand contending, contradictory qualities ; he hears a 
multitude of voices exclaiming, What a man ! But he hears 
too the voice of the Deity exclaim, What a man ! He prays, 
while those revile who cannot comprehend, or, if they can, will 
not, that in the countenance, under the form they view, lie 
concealed beauty, power, wisdom, and a divine nature. 

Still further — the physiognomist, or observer of man, who 
is a man — a Christian — that is to say, a wise and good man, 
will a thousand times act contrary to his own physiognomonical 
sensation — I do not express myself accurately — he appears to 
act contrary to his internal judgment of the man. He speaks 
not all he thinks — this is an additional reason why the phy- 
siognomist so often appears to err; and why the true observer, 
observation, and truth, are in him, so often mistaken and ridi- 


culed. He reads the villain in the countenance of the beggar 
at his door, yet does not turn away, but speaks friendly to 
him, searches his heart, and discovers ; — Oh God, what does 
he discover ! — An immeasurable abyss, a chaos of vice ! — But 
does he discover nothing more, nothing good ! — Be it granted 
ne finds nothing good, yet he there contemplates clay which 
must not say to the potter, " why hast thou made me thus V 
He sees, prays, turns away his face, and hides a tear which 
speaks, with eloquence inexpressible, not to man, but to God 
alone. He stretches out his friendly hand, not only in pity to 
a hapless wife, whom he has rendered unfortunate, not only 
for the sake of his helpless innocent children, but in compas- 
sion to himself, for the sake of God, who has made all things, 
even the wicked themselves, for his own glory. He gives, 
perhaps, to kindle a spark which he yet perceives, and this is 
what is called (in scripture) giving his heart. — Whether the 
unworthy man misuses the gift, or misuses it not, the judg- 
ment of the donor will alike be arraigned. Whoever hears of 
the gift will say, how has this good man again suffered himself 
to be deceived ! 

Man is not to be the judge of man — and who feels this 
truth more coercively than the physiognomist ? The mightiest 
of men, the Ruler of man, came not to judge the world, but to 
save. Not that he did not see the vices of the vicious, nor 
that he concealed them from himself, or others, when philan- 
thropy required they should be remarked and detected. — Yet 
he judged not, punished not. — He forgave — " Go thy way, sin 
no more. 1 ' — Judas he received as one of his disciples, protected 
him, embraced him — him in whom he beheld his future 

Good men are most apt to discover good. — Thine eye cannot 
be Christian if thou givest me not thy heart. Wisdom with- 
out goodness is folly, I will judge justly and act benevolently. 

Once more — a profligate man, an abandoned woman, who 
have ten times been to blame when they have affirmed they 
were not, on the eleventh are condemned when they are not to 
blame. They apply to the physiognomist. He inquires, and 
finds that, this time, they are innocent. Discretion loudly tells 


him he will be censured should he suffer it to be known that he 
believes them innocent ; but his heart more loudly commands 
him to speak, to bear witness for the present innocence of such 
rejected persons. A word escapes him, and a multitude of 
reviling voices at once are heard — " Such a judgment ought 
not to have been made by a physiognomist !" — Yet who has 
decided erroneously ? 

The above are a few hints and reasons to the discerning, to 
induce them to judge as cautiously concerning the physiogno- 
mist as they would wish him to judge concerning themselves, 
or others. 


Innumerable are the objections which may be raised against 
the certainty of judgments drawn from the lines and features 
of the human countenance. Many of these appear to me to 
be easy, many difficult, and some impossible to be answered. 

Before I select any of them, I will first state some general 
remarks, the accurate consideration and proof of which will 
remove many difficulties. 

It appears to me that in all researches, we ought first to 
inquire what can be said in defence of any proposition. One 
irrefragable proof of the actual existence and certainty of a 
thing will overbalance ten thousand objections. One positive 
witness, who has all possible certainty that knowledge and 
reason can give, will preponderate against innumerable others 
who are only negative. All objections against a certain truth 
are in reality only negative evidence. " We never observed 
this : we never experienced that." — Though ten thousand 
should make this assertion, what would it prove against one 
man of understanding, and sound reason, who should answer, 
" But I have observed ; and you, also, may observe, if you 
please." No well-founded objection can be made against the 
existence of a thing visible to sense. Argument cannot dis- 
prove fact. No two opposing positive facts can be adduced ; 
all objections to a fact, therefore, must be negative. 


Let this be applied to physiognomy. Positive proofs of the 
true and acknowledged signification of the face and its features, 
against the clearness and certainty of which nothing can be 
alleged, render innumerable objections, although they cannot 
probably be answered, perfectly insignificant. Let us there- 
fore endeavour to inform ourselves of those positive arguments 
which physiognomy affords. Let us first make ourselves stead- 
fast in what is certainly true, and we shall soon be enabled to 
answer many objections, or to reject them as unworthy any 

It appears to me that in the same proportion as a man 
remarks and adheres to the positive, will be the strength and 
perseverance of his mind. He whose talents do not surpass 
mediocrity, is accustomed to overlook the positive, and to 
maintain the negative with invincible obstinacy. 

Thou shouldest first consider what thou art, what is thy 
knowledge, and what are thy qualities and powers ; before thou 
inquirest what thou art not, knowest not, and what the quali- 
ties and powers are that thou hast not. This is a rule which 
every man, who wishes to be wise, virtuous and happy, ought, 
not only to prescribe to himself, but, if I may use so bold a 
figure, to incorporate with, and make a part of, his very soul. 
The truly wise always first directs his inquiries concerning what 
is ; the man of weak intellect, the pedant, first searches for 
that which is wanting. The true philosopher looks first for 
the positive proofs of the proposition. I say first — I am very 
desirous that my meaning should not be misunderstood, and, 
therefore, repeat, first. The superficial mind first examines 
the negative objections. — This has been the method pursued 
by infidels, the opponents of Christianity. Were it granted 
that Christianity is false, still this method would neither be lo- 
gical, true, nor conclusive. Therefore such modes of reasoning 
must be set aside, as neither logical nor conclusive, before we 
can proceed to answer objections. 

To return once more to physiognomy : the question will be 
reduced to this. — " Whether there be any proofs sufficiently 
positive and decisive, in favour of physiognomy, to induce us to 
disregard the most plausible objections." — That there are, I am 


as much convinced as I am of my own existence ; and every 
unprejudiced reader will be the same, who shall read this work 
through, if he only possess so much discernment and knowledge 
as not to deny that eyes are given us to see ; although there are 
innumerable eyes in the world that look and do not see. 

It may happen that learned men, of a certain description, 
will endeavour to perplex me by argument. They, for example, 
may cite the female butterfly of Reamur, and the large winged 
ant, in order to prove how much we may be mistaken, with re- 
spect to final causes, in the products of nature. — They may as- 
sert, "wings, undoubtedly, appear to be given for the purpose of 
flight, yet these insects never fly ; therefore wings are not given 
for that purpose. — And by a parity of reasoning, since there 
are wise men who, probably, do not see, eyes are not given 
for the purpose of sight.' 1 '' — To such objections I shall make no 
reply, for never, in my whole life, have I been able to answer a 
sophism. I appeal only to common sense. I view a certain 
number of men, who all have the gift of sight when they open 
their eyes, and there is light, and who do not see when their 
eyes are shut. As this certain number are not select, but 
taken promiscuously, among millions of existing men, it is the 
highest possible degree of probability that all men, whose for- 
mation is similar, that have lived, do live, or shall live, being 
alike provided with those organs we call eyes, must see. This, 
at least, has been the mode of arguing and concluding, among 
all nations, and in all ages. In the same degree as this mode 
of reasoning is convincing, when applied to other subjects, so is 
it when applied to physiognomy, and is equally applicable ; and 
if untrue in physiognomy, it is equally untrue in every other 

I am therefore of opinion that the defender of physiognomy 
may rest the truth of the science on this proposition, " That it 
is universally confessed that, among ten, twenty, or thirty 
men, indiscriminately selected, there as certainly exists a phy- 
siognomonical expression, or demonstrable correspondence of 
internal power and sensation, with external form and figure, 
as that, among the like number of men, in the like manner 
selected, they have eyes and can see." Having proved this, 


he has as sufficiently proved the universality and truth of 
physiognomy as the universality of sight by the aid of eyes, 
having shown that ten, twenty, or thirty men, by the aid 
of eyes, are all capable of seeing. From a part I draw a 
conclusion to the whole ; whether those I have seen or those 
I have not. 

But it will be answered, though this may be proved of 
certain features, does it, therefore, follow that it may be proved 
of all 1 — I am persuaded it may : if I am wrong, show me my 

Having remarked that men who have eyes and ears see and 
hear, and being convinced that eyes were given to man for the 
purpose of sight, and ears for that of hearing ; being unable 
longer to doubt that eyes and ears have their destined office, 
I think I draw no improper conclusion, when I suppose that 
every other sense, and member of this same human body, 
which so wonderfully form a whole, has each a particular pur- 
pose : although it should happen that I am unable to discover 
what the particular purposes of so many senses, members, and 
integuments may be. Thus do I reason, also, concerning the 
signification of the countenance of man, the formation of his 
body, and the disposition of his members. 

If it can be proved that any two or three features have a 
certain determinate signification, as determinate as that the 
eye is the expression of the countenance, am I not warranted 
in concluding, according to the mode of reasoning above cited, 
universally acknowledged to be just, that those features are 
also significant, with the signification of which I am unac- 
quainted ! — I think myself able to prove, to every person of 
the commonest understanding, that all men, without excep- 
tion, at least, under certain circumstances, and in some par- 
ticular feature, may, indeed, have more than one feature of a 
certain determinate signification ; as surely as I can render it 
comprehensible to the simplest person, that certain determinate 
members of the human body are to answer certain determinate 

Twenty or thirty men, taken promiscuously, when they 
laugh, or weep, will, in the expression of their joy or grief, 


possess something in common with, or similar to, each other. 
Certain features will bear a greater resemblance to each other 
among them than they otherwise do, when not in the like sym- 
pathetic state of mind. 

To me it appears evident that, since it is universally acknow- 
ledged that excessive joy and grief have their peculiar expres- 
sions, and that the expression of each is as different as the 
different passions of joy and grief, it must, therefore, be al- 
lowed, that the state of rest, the medium between joy and 
grief, will likewise have its peculiar expression ; or, in other 
words, that the muscles which surround the eyes and lips, will 
indubitably be found to be in a different state. 

If this be granted concerning the state of the mind in joy, 
grief, or tranquillity ; why should not the same be true con- 
cerning its state when under the influence of pride, humility, 
patience, magnanimity, and other affections ? 

According to certain laws, the stone flies upward, when 
thrown with sufficient force ; by other laws, equally certain, it 
afterwards falls to the earth ; and will it not remain unmoved 
according to laws equally fixed if suffered to be at rest ? Joy, 
according to certain laws, is expressed in one manner, grief in 
another, and tranquillity in a third. Wherefore then shall 
not anger, gentleness, pride, humility, and other passions, be 
subject to certain laws ; that is, to certain fixed laws 

All things in nature are or are not subjected to certain laws. 
There is a cause for all things, or there is not. All things are 
cause and effect, or are not. Ought we not hence to derive 
one of the first axioms of philosophy \ And if this be granted, 
how immediately is physiognomy relieved from all objections, 
even from those which we know not how to answer ; that is, 
as soon as it shall be granted there are certain characteristic 
features in all men, as characteristic as the eyes are to the 
countenance ! 

But, it will be said, how different are the expressions of joy 
and grief, of the thoughtful and the thoughtless ! And how 
may these expressions be reduced to rule ? 

How different from each other "are the eyes of men, and of 
all creatures ; the eye of an eagle from the eye of a mole, an 


elephant, and a fly ! and yet we believe of all who have no 
evident signs of infirmity, or death, that they see. 

The feet and ears are as various as are the eyes ; yet we 
universally conclude of them all, that they were given us for 
the purposes of hearing and walking. 

These varieties by no means prevent our believing that the 
eyes, ears, and feet, are the expressions, the organs of seeing, 
hearing, and walking ; and why should we not draw the same 
conclusions concerning all features and lineaments of the 
human body ? The expressions of similar dispositions of mind 
cannot have greater variety than have the eyes, ears and feet, 
of all beings that see, hear, and walk ; yet may we as easily 
observe and determine what they have in common, as we can 
observe and determine what the eyes, ears, and feet, which are 
so various, among all beings that see, hear, and walk, have also 
in common. This well considered, how many objections will 
be answered, or become insignificant ! 



" It is said, we find persons who, from youth to old age, 
without sickness, without debauchery, have continually a pale, 
death-like aspect; who, nevertheless, enjoy an uninterrupted 
and confirmed state of health." 

These are uncommon cases. A thousand men will shew 
their state of health by the complexion and roundness of the 
countenance, to one in whom these appearances will differ from 
the truth.— I suspect that these uncommon cases are the 
effects of impressions, made on the mother, during her state 
of pregnancy. — Such cases may be considered as exceptions, 
the accidental causes of which may, perhaps, not be difficult 
to discover. 

To me it seems we have as little just cause hence to draw 
conclusions against the science of physiognomy, as we have 


against the proportion of the human body, because there are 
dwarfs, giants, and monstrous births. 


A friend writes me word, " He is acquainted with a man of 
prodigious strength, who, the hands excepted, has every ap- 
pearance of weakness, and would be supposed weak by all to 
whom he should be unknown." 

I could wish to see this man. I much doubt whether his 
strength be only expressed in his hands, or, if it were, still it 
is expressed in the hands; and were no exterior signs of 
strength to be found, still he must be considered as an excep- 
tion, an example unexampled. But, as I have said, I much 
doubt the fact. I have never yet seen a strong man whose 
strength was not discoverable in various parts. 


" We perceive the signs of bravery and heroism in the coun- 
tenances of men who are, notwithstanding, the first to run 


The less the man is, the greater he wishes to appear. 

But what are these signs of heroism ? Do they resemble 
those found in the Farnesian Hercules ? — Of this I doubt : let 
them be drawn, let them be produced ; the physiognomist will 
probably say, at the second, if not at the first, glance, Quanta 
species! Sickness, accident, melancholy, likewise, deprive the 
bravest men of courage. This contradiction, however, ought 
to be apparent to the physiognomist. 


" We find persons whose exterior appearance denotes ex- 
treme pride, and who, in their actions, never betray the least 
symptom of pride." 


A man may be proud and affect humility. 

Education and habit may give an appearance of pride, 
although the heart be humble ; but this humility of heart will 
shine through an appearance of pride, as sunbeams through 
transparent clouds. It is true that this apparently proud man 
would have more humility, had he less of the appearance of 


•' We see mechanics who, with incredible ingenuity, produce 
the most curious works of art, and bring them to the greatest 
perfection ; yet who, in their hands and bodies, resemble the 
rudest peasants, and wood-cutters ; while the hands of fine 
ladies are totally incapable of such minute and curious per- 

I should desire these rude and delicate frames to be brought 
together and compared. — Most naturalists describe the ele- 
phant as gross and stupid in appearance ; and, according to 
this apparent stupidity, or rather according to that stupidity 
which they ascribe to him, wonder at his address. Let the 
elephant .and the tender lamb be placed side by side, and the 
superiority of address will be visible from the formation and 
flexibility of the body, without further trial. 

Ingenuity and address do not so much depend upon the mass 
as upon the nature, mobility, internal sensation, nerves, con- 
struction, and suppleness of the body and its parts. 

Delicacy is not power, power is not minuteness. Apelles 
would have drawn better with charcoal than many miniature 
painters with the finest pencil. The tools of a mechanic may 
be rude, and his mind the very reverse. Genius will work 
better with a clumsy hand, than stupidity with a hand the 
most pliable. I will indeed allow your objection to be well 
founded if nothing of the character of an artist is discoverable 
in his countenance ; but, before you come to a decision, it is 
necessary you should be acquainted with the various marks that 


denote mechanical genius, in the face. Have you considered 
the lustre, the acuteness, the penetration of his eyes ; his 
rapid, his decisive, his firm aspect ; the projecting bones of his 
brow, his arched forehead, the suppleness, the delicacy, or the 
massiness of his limbs \ Have you well considered these par- 
ticulars ? " I could not see it in him," is easily said. More 
consideration is requisite to discover the character of the man. 


" There are persons of peculiar penetration who have very 
unmeaning countenances." 

The assertion requires proof. 

For my own part, after many hundred mistakes, I have con- 
tinually found the fault was in my want of proper observation. 
• — At first, for example, I looked for the tokens of any parti- 
cular quality too much in one place ; I sought and found it 
not, although I knew the person possessed extraordinary 
powers. I have been long before I coidd discover the seat of 
character. I was deceived, sometimes by seeking too partially, 
at others, too generally. To this I was particularly liable in 
examining tno&e who had only distinguished themselves in 
some particular pursuit ; and, in other respects, appeared to 
be persons of very common abilities, men whose powers were 
all concentrated to a point, to the examination of one sub- 
ject ; or men whose powers were very indeterminate : I ex- 
press myself improperly, powers which had never been excited, 
brought into action. Many years ago, I was acquainted with 
a great mathematician, the astonishment of Europe ; who, at 
the first sight, and even long after, appeared to have a very 
common countenance. I drew a good likeness of him, which 
obliged me to pay a more minute attention, and found a par- 
ticular trait which was very marking and decisive. A similar 
trait to this I, many years afterwards, discovered in another 
person, who, though widely different, was also a man of great 
talents ; and who, this trait excepted, had an unmeaning 
countenance, which seemed to prove the science of physiog- 


nomy all erroneous. Never since this time have I discovered 
that particular trait in any man who did not possess some 
peculiar merit, however simple his appearance might be. 

This proves how true and false, at once, the objection may 
be which states, " Such a person appears to be a weak man, 
yet has great powers of mind." 

I have been written to concerning D'Alembert, whose coun- 
tenance, contrary to all physiognomonical science, was one of 
the most common. To this I can make no answer, unless I 
had seen D'Alembert. This much is certain, that his profile, 
by Cochin, which yet must be very inferior to the original, not 
to mention other less obvious traits, has a forehead, and in 
part a nose, which were never seen in the countenance of any 
person of moderate, not to say mean, abilities. 


" We find very silly people with very expressive counte- 

Who does not daily make this remark ? My only answer, 
which I have repeatedly given, and which I think perfectly 
satisfactory, is, that the endowments of nature may be excel- 
lent ; and yet, by want of use, or abuse, may be destroyed. 
Power is there, but it is power misapplied. The fire wasted 
in the pursuit of pleasure can no longer be applied to the dis- 
covery and display of truth — it is fire without light, fire that 
ineffectually burns. 

I have the happiness to be acquainted with some of the 
greatest men in Germany and Switzerland ; and I can, upon 
my honour assert, that, of all the men of genius with whom I 
am acquainted, there is not one who does not express the de- 
gree of invention and powers of mind he possesses in the 
features of his countenance, and particularly in the form of his 

I shall only select the following names from an innumerable 
multitude. Charles XII., Louis XIV., Turenne, Sully, Po- 
lignac, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot. — Newton, Clarke, 
Maupertuis, Pope, Locke, Swift, Lessing, Bodmer, Sultzer. 



Haller. I believe the character of greatness in these heads is 
visible in every well-drawn outline. I could produce numerous 
specimens, among which an experienced eye would scarcely ever 
be mistaken. 

Will not the annexed head, Plate VII., though not one of 
the most determinate, impress every spectator with ideas of 
deep thought, and a spirit of inquiry 2 


One of the most usual, and strong objections against phy- 
siognomy, is the universality, and excess of dissimulation 
among mankind. If we are able to answer this objection 
satisfactorily, we shall have gained a very material point. 

Men, it is said, make all possible efforts to appear wiser, 
better, and honester than, in reality, they are. They affect the 
behaviour, the voice, the appearance of the most rigorous 
virtue. This is a part of their art ; they study to deceive, till 
they are able to remove every doubt, destroy every suspicion 
that is entertained of their worth. Men of the most acute 
penetration, the greatest understanding, and even those who 
have applied themselves to the study of physiognomy, daily are, 
and shall continue to be deceived by their arts. — How, there- 
fore, may physiognomy ever be reduced to a true and certain 
science ? 

I believe I have stated this objection in its full force. I 
will answer. 

And, first, I am ready to grant it is possible to carry the 
art of dissimulation to an astonishing degree of excess ; and 
by this art, the most discerning man may be amazingly de- 

But although I most freely grant all this, I still hold this 
objection against the certainty of physiognomy, to be infinitely 
less important than some generally believe, and would induce 
others to believe it to be ; and this, principally, for the two 
following reasons. 

I. There are many features, or parts of the body, which are 



not susceptible of dissimulation ; and, indeed, such features as 
are indubitable marks of internal character. 

II. Because dissimulation itself has its certain and sensible 
tokens, though they may not be definable by lines or words. 

I repeat, there are many features or parts of the body which 
are not susceptible of dissimulation ; and, indeed, such features 
as are indubitable marks of internal character. 

What man, for example, however subtle, would be able to 
alter the conformation of his bones, according to his pleasure I 
Can any man give himself, instead of a flat, a bold and arched 
forehead ; or a sharp indented forehead, when nature has given 
him one arched and round I 

Who can change the colour and position of his eye-brows ? 
Can any man bestow on himself thick, bushy eye-brows, when 
they are either thin, or wholly deficient of hair ? 

Can any fashion the flat and short, into the well-proportioned 
and beautiful nose i 

Who can make his thick lips thin, or his thin lips thick I 
Who can change a round into a pointed, or a pointed into a 
round chin ? 

Who can alter the colour of his eyes, or give them, at his 
pleasure, more or less lustre ? 

Where is the art, where the dissimulation, that can make 
the blue eye brown, the grey one black, or if it be flat, give it 
rotundity ? 

The same may be said of the ears, their form, position, dis- 
tance from the nose, height and depth ; also, of the skull, 
which forms a large portion of the outline of the head ; and of 
the complexion, the skin, the muscles, and the pulse. These 
are each decisive marks of the temper and character of man, 
as we shall show in its place, or which, however, we easily may 
show, and as the least accurate observer must daily perceive. 

How is it possible for dissimulation to exist in these, or 
many other of the external parts of the human body I 

Let the choleric, or the melancholy man labour how he may 
to appear phlegmatic, or sanguine, he will never be able to 
alter his blood, complexion, nerves, and muscles, or their dif- 
ferent symptoms and marks. 


An irascible man, however mild, however calm or placid a 
mien he may assume, cannot alter the colour and lowering of 
his eye, the nature and curling of his hair, or the situation of 
his teeth. 

The weak man, however industrious, will be unable to alter 
the profile of his countenance, the lips excepted, and these but 
little. He never can make it resemble the profile of the great 
and wise man. He may wrinkle his forehead, or make it smooth, 
but the bones will continue the same. The fool is equally in- 
capable of concealing the tokens of folly, as the truly wise man, 
the man of real genius, is of depriving himself of the marks of his 
clear, his piercing, his superior mind ; for could he do so, he 
would no longer be a fool. 

It will be still objected, that enough remains of the exterior 
parts of man, which are capable of dissimulation in a very high 
degree. Granted; but we cannot grant that it is impossible 
to detect such dissimulation. 

No ; for, in the second place, I believe that there is no kind of 
dissimulation but has its certain and sensible tokens, though 
they may not be definable by lines or words. 

The fault is not in the object but in the observer, that these 
tokens remain unremarked. 

I acknowledge that, to discern these tokens, an acute and 
practised eye is necessary; as, to define them, is, likewise, an 
excellent physiognomonical genius. I will, further, willingly 
grant they cannot always be expressed by words or lines, and 
drawing, yet they are discernible. Have effort, constraint, ab- 
sence, and dissipation, those companions of deceit," no deter- 
minate, at least perceptible, marks? 

" Un homme dissimule veut il masquer ses sentimens ? II 
se passe dans son interieur un combat entre le vrai, qu'il veut 
cacher, et le faux qu'il voudroit presenter. Ce combat jette la 
confusion dans le mouvement de ressorts. Le cceur, dont la 
fonction est d'exciter les esprits, les pousse ou ils doivent na- 
turellement aller. La volonte s'y oppose, elle les bride, les 
tient prissonniers, elle s'efforce d'en detourner le cours et les 
effets, pour donner le change. Mais il s'en echappe beaucoup, 
et les fuyards vont porter des nouvelles certaines de ce qui 


se passe dans le secret du conseil. " Ainsi plus on veut cacher 
le vrai, plus le trouble augmente, et mieux on se decouvre."'* 
I am of Dom Pernetty's opinion. 

While I was writing this, a disagreeable incident happened, 
which is applicable to the subject. I know not whether it 
be for or against me. — Two young persons, about four and 
twenty, more than once, came before me, and most solemnly 
declared two tales, directly opposite, were each of them true? 
The one affirmed, " Thou art the father of my child." The 
other, " I never had any knowledge of thee." They both must 
be convinced that one of these assertions was true, the other 
false. The one must have uttered a known truth, the other a 
known lie ; and thus the vilest slanderer, and the most injured 
and innocent person, both stood in my presence — " Conse- 
quently one of them must be able to dissemble, most surpris- 
ingly, and the vilest falsehood may assume the garb of the 
most injured innocence." — Yes, it is a melancholy truth. — 
Yet, on consideration, not so — for this is the privilege of the 
freedom of human nature, the perfection and honour of which 
alike consists in its infinite capability of perfection and imper- 
fection ; for imperfection to the actual free and moral perfec- 
tion of man is its greatest worth. Therefore it is melancholy, 
not that vile falsehood can, but that it does, assume the ap- 
pearance of suffering innocence. 

" Well, but it has this power, and what has the physiogno- 
mist to answer V 

He answers thus : 

Two persons are before me, one of whom puts no constraint 
upon himself, to appear other than he is, while the second is 

* If a deceitful man wishes to conceal his thoughts, he is subjected to 
an internal struggle between the true, which would be hidden, and the 
false which endeavours to appear. This struggle puts the spirits into 
commotion, which are impelled by the heart, according to its function, to 
their natural state. The will opposes this impulse, restrains them, keeps 
them prisoners, and endeavours to turn the tide, and its effects, purposely 
to deceive. Many, however, will escape, and the fugitives bring certain 
intelligence of what is secretly passing in the council of the mind. Thus 
the greater the endeavour is to conceal truth, the more are the thoughts 
troubled, and discovered. 


under the greatest constraint, and must, also, take the great- 
est care that this constraint shall not appear. The guilty is 
probably more daring than the innocent, but certainly the 
voice of innocence has greater energy, persuasive and convinc- 
ing powers ; the look of innocence is surely more serene and 
bright than that of the guilty liar. 

I beheld this look, with mingled pity and anger, for inno- 
cence, and against guilt ; this indescribable look that so ex- 
pressively said, "And darest thou deny it?" — I beheld, on the 
contrary, a clouded and insolent look ; I heard the rude, the 
loud, voice of presumption, but which, yet, like the look, was 
unconvincing, hollow, that with forced tones answered, " Yes, 
I dare." I viewed the manner of standing, the motion of the 
hands, particularly the undecided step, and, at the moment 
when I awfully described the solemnity of an oath, at that mo- 
ment, I saw in the motion of the lips, the downcast look, the 
manner of standing of the one party ; and the open, astonished, 
firm, penetrating, warm, calm, look, that silently exclaimed, 
Lord Jesus, and wilt thou swear ! 

Wilt thou believe me, O reader ? — I saw, I heard, I felt, 
guilt and innocence. — Villainy, with a depressed, accursed, — I 
know not what. 

The author of the memorial in behalf of the widow Gamm, 
truly says, 

" Cette chaleur, si Ton pouvoit ainsi parler, est le pouls de 
Finnocence. L'innocence a des accents inimitables, et malheur 
au juge qui ne sgait point les entendre.""* 

"Quoi des sourcils ! (says another Frenchman, I believe Mon- 
tagne) Quoi des epaules ! II n'est mouvement qui ne parle, et 
un langage intelligible, sans discipline, et un langage public. 11_ f- 

I must not quit this important point without saying some- 
thing further. 

* This warmth may be called the pulse of innocence. The accents of 
innocence are inimitable ; and woe be to the judge to whom they are un- 

T What eyebrows ! what shoulders ! There is not a motion but 
what speaks an intelligible language, without instruction, a universal 


As a general remark, it may be affirmed, honesty (or sin- 
cerity) is the simplest, yet the most inexplicable of things ; a 
word of the most extensive sense, and the most confined. 

The perfectly virtuous may be called a God, and the 
totally vicious, a Demon ; but man is neither God nor De- 
mon ; he is man ; no man is perfectly virtuous, nor wholly 

Speaking of falsehood and sincerity, we must not consider 
these qualities in their purest and abstract state, but must 
call him sincere who is not conscious of any false and selfish 
views, which he endeavours to conceal ; and him false who 
actually endeavours to appear better than he is, in order to 
procure some advantage to the detriment of others. This 
premised, I have still what follows to add concerning deceit 
and sincerity, as they relate to physiognomy. 

Few men have been more deceived by hypocrites than my- 
self; and if any person has just cause to state dissimulation 
as an objection against physiognomy, that cause have I. Yet 
the more I have been imposed upon, by an assumed mien of 
honesty, the more pertinaciously do I maintain the certainty 
of the science. Nothing can be more natural than that the 
weakest understanding must at length become cautious by suf- 
fering, and wise by experience. 

My station obliged me to exert my whole powers in disco- 
vering the tokens of sincerity and falsehood ; or, in other 
words, to analyze those obscure sensations, those true, untaught 
principles, which are felt at the first glance of a suspicious 
person, and firmly to retain those principles, contrary to the " 
inclinations of a good heart, and a sound understanding, by 
which they would willingly have been rejected. My attempts 
to efface such impressions from my mind have always been to 
my own injury. 

The hypocrite is never less capable of dissimulation than at 
the first moment, while he remains perfectly himself, and before 
his powers of deception are excited. I maintain that nothing 
is, at the same time, more difficult, or more easy, than the de- 
tection of hypocrisy : nothing more difficult, so long as the 
hypocrite imagines he is observed ; nothing more easy when 


he supposes the contrary. Nothing, on the contrary, can be 
more easy to note and discover than honesty, since it is conti- 
nually in its natural state, and is never under any constraint 
to maintain an appearance of the thing that it is not. 

It must, nevertheless, be carefully remembered that timidity 
and bashfulness may raise, even in an honest countenance, 
the blush of insincerity. Timidity, and not dissimulation, 
may often make the person who relates an event, or intrusts 
another with the secret, unable to look him in the face. Yet 
the downcast look of the speaker continually makes a bad im- 
pression. We very rarely can refrain from suspecting insin- 
cerity ; still it is weakness, timidity, imperfection : timidity 
which may easily become insincerity ; for who are more dis- 
posed to be insincere than the timid ? How quickly do they 
concede and accommodate themselves to the manners of all with 
whom they converse ! How strong, how continual, to them, 
is the tempting spirit of conciliation ! What was the false- 
hood, the perfidy of Peter, but timidity \ The most inferior 
of men have strength, power, and instinct, sufficient to plan 
and practise deceit, and ensnare others, under an appearance 
of fidelity and friendship. Yet numberless men, not the rude 
and insensible, but the noble, the feeling, the finely organized, 
and, indeed, those the most, are in continual danger of acting 
with insincerity. They find themselves exposed, as it were, 
to a torrent of deceit, and may easily acquire the habit of not 
opposing the multitudes with whom they converse. They are 
often betrayed into flattery, contrary to the dictates of the 
heart, and often are driven to join the ridicule that is levelled 
at the virtuous, nay, possibly a friend. — Yet, no. Ridicule a 
friend ! — whoever is capable of this possesses neither a feeling, 
a true, nor a noble mind. Ridicule and friendship are as 
distant as Lucifer amd a cherub. Yet, alas ! how easily may 
an honest, but weak and timid mind, be drawn to ridicule 
what is in itself honourable, sacred, and godlike ! — How easily 
too may those who have not the power of denial make pro- 
mises to two different persons, one of which they have only the 
power to keep ; or assent to two contradictory propositions ! 
Oh timidity ! Oh, unworthy fear ! You have made more 


dissemblers and hypocrites than, even, ever were formed by 
selfishness and vice. 

I must again repeat, fear and insincerity, vice, timidity, and 
falsehood, are frequently similar in their expressions. Who- 
ever is grown grey in dissimulation, in whom timidity and 
pride are united, and are become habitual artifice, will never 
find it possible to diffuse around him the open, heartfelt emo- 
tions of sincerity. He may deceive ; but in what manner ? 
Men will say — " It is impossible he should express himself 
thus, and be insincere." But no man will say, " My heart is 
in unison with his," or " How much was my heart at ease in 
his company ! How much more expressive was his behaviour, 
of faith and benevolence, than were his words !" Men will 
never speak thus, or, should they so speak, it will not be from 
conviction, from an internal, intuitive, sensation of indubitable 
truth. Glance of the eye ! Smile of the mouth ! Ye will 
betray the man, even though ye should not be remarked ; 
though men should blindly determine not to see, to harden 
their hearts, forget, and remain in ignorance. 

We must, at last, after repeated deception, reject reasoning, 
and be guided by the deep sensation, the disregarded con- 
viction, we first feel of insincerity. 

Where, ah ! where, then, is clear, pure, open, unconstrained, 
disinterested sincerity? Where is the unreserved, unsus- 
picious, unchangeable, aspect of infantine simplicity and 
truth ? 

How great is the treasure of him who has made the dis- 
covery ! — Sell all that thou hast, and buy the field that con- 
tains this pearl. 


My opinion, on this profound and important question, is, 
that man is as free as the bird in the cage ; he has a deter- 
minate space for action and sensation, beyond which he cannot 
pass. As each man has a particular circumference of body, so 
has he likewise a certain sphere of action. One of the unpar- 


donable sins of Helvetius, against reason and experience, is, 
that he has assigned to education the sole power of forming, 
or deforming the mind. I doubt if any philosopher of the 
present century has imposed any doctrine upon the world so 
insulting to common sense. Can it be denied that certain 
minds, certain frames, are by nature capable, or incapable, of 
certain sensations, talents, and actions ? 

To force a man to think and feel like me,. is equal to forcing 
him to have my exact forehead and nose ; or to impart unto 
the eagle the slowness of the snail, and to the snail the swift- 
ness of the eagle : yet this is the philosophy of our modern 

Each individual can but what he can, is but what he is. He 
may arrive at, but cannot exceed, a certain degree of perfec- 
tion, which scourging, even to death itself, cannot make him 
surpass. Each man must give his own standard. We must 
determine what his powers are, and not imagine what the 
powers of another might effect in a similar situation. 

When, oh ! men and brethren, children of the common 
father, when will you begin to judge each other justly ? When 
will you cease to require, to force, from the man of sensibility 
the abstraction of the cold and phlegmatic ; or from the cold 
and phlegmatic the enthusiasm of the man of sensibility ? 
When cease to require nectarines from an apple tree, or figs 
from the vine ? Man is man, nor can wishes make him angel ; 
and each man is an individual self, with as little ability to 
become another self as to become an angel. So far as my own 
sphere extends, I am free ; within that circle can act. I, to 
whom one talent only has been intrusted, cannot act like him 
who has two. My talent, however, may be well or ill-employed. 
A certain quantity of power is bestowed on me, which I may 
use, and, by use, increase, by want of use, diminish, and, by 
misuse, totally lose. But I never can perform, with this quan- 
tity of power, what might be performed with a double portion, 
equally well applied. Industry may make near approaches to 
ingenuity, and ingenuity to genius, wanting exercise, or op- 
portunity of unfolding itself ; or, rather, may seem to make 
these approaches : but never can industry supply total absence 


of genius or ingenuity. Each must remain what he is, nor can 
he extend or enlarge himself beyond a certain size : each man 
is a sovereign prince ; but, whether small or great, only in his 
own principality. This he may cultivate so as to produce 
fruits equal to one twice as large, that shall be left half un- 
cultivated. But, though he cannot extend his principality, yet, 
having cultivated it well, the lord of his neighbour's may add 
that as a gift. Such being freedom and necessity, it ought to 
render each man humble, yet ardent ; modest, yet active. — 
Hitherto and no farther — truth, physiognomy, and the voice 
of God, proclaim aloud to man, Be what thou art, and become 
what thou canst. 

The character and countenance of every man may suffer 
astonishing changes ; yet, only to a certain extent. Each has 
room sufficient : the least has a large and good field, which he 
may cultivate, according to the soil ; but he can only sow such 
seed as he has, nor can he cultivate any other field than that 
on which he is stationed. In the mansion of God, there are, 
to his glory, vessels of wood, of silver, and of gold. All are 
serviceable, all profitable, all capable of divine uses, all the 
instruments of God : but the wood continues wood, the silver 
silver, the gold gold. Though the golden should remain 
unused, still they are gold. The wooden may be made more 
serviceable than the golden, but they continue wood. No ad- 
dition, no constraint, no effort of the mind, can give to man 
another nature. Let each be what he is, so will he be suf- 
ficiently good, for man himself, and God. — The violin cannot 
have the sound of the flute, nor the trumpet of the drum. 
But the violin, differently strung, differently fingered, and dif- 
ferently bowed, may produce an infinite variety of sounds, 
though not the sound of the flute. Equally incapable is the 
drum to produce the sound of the trumpet, although the drum 
be capable of infinite variety. 

I cannot write well with a bad pen, but with a good one, I 
can write both well and ill. Being foolish I cannot speak 
wisely, but I may speak foolishly although wise. He who 
nothing possesses, nothing can give ; but, having, he may give, 
or he may refrain. Though, with a thousand florins, I cannot 


buy all I wish, yet am I at liberty to choose, among numberless 
things, any whose value does not exceed that sum. In like 
manner, am I free, and not free. The sum of my powers, the 
degree of my activity, or inactivity, depend on my internal and 
external organization, on incidents, incitements, men, books, 
good or ill-fortune, and the use I may make of the quantity of 
power I possess. " It is not of him that willeth, or of him 
that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Nor may the 
vessel say to the potter, why hast thou made me thus ? But 
the righteous lord reapeth not where he hath not sowed, nor 
gathereth where he hath not strewed. Yet with justice he 
demandeth five other talents, from him who received five, two 
from him who received two, and one from him who received 


It would be an absurd and ridiculous pretension to define 
only the outlines of the annexed heads, with all their significa- 
tions. Yet, something, after repeated observation, may, with 
certainty, be said, and referred to further proof. 


Fig. 1. — A great and active mind, with high retentive fa- 
culties. The sketch and form of the eye leads us to suppose 
any object quickly seized by, and firmly fixed in, the memory. 
Fig. 2 . Will not so easily adopt an opinion as the former — is only 
susceptible of feeling in the moments of devotion. — Nothing 
insidious, or deceitful, can be discovered in this countenance. 

Fig. 3. — A countenance, which, to eternity, never would 
busy itself with abstractions, calculations, and classifications : 
wholly addicted to sensual delights ; capable of all the arts, 
and errors, of love ; of the highest sensations ; and of the 
lowest and most licentious. Probability is that it would con- 
tain itself in the medium between these two extremes. 

pig # 4. — A countenance pleased with fidelity — a lover of 
order ; but difficult to renounce an opinion once imbibed . 


Fig. 5. — Will probably remain in a state of mediocrity : its 
prudence might become modest timidity ; but never can it 
attain the active sphere of the hero. 

Fig. 6. — Rich in ingenuity — quick of perception ; but not 
deep in research — susceptible of moral and sensitive ideas in 
which it delights. — Scarcely capable of punctual activity, and 
love of accuracy. 

Fig. 7. — A countenance of rapid action and powers, ever 
busied in philosophy and poetry, and notwithstanding the cold- 
ness of the mouth, seldom capable of calm consideration. 

Fig. 8. — Characteristic of economy. Totally incapable of 
poetical sensibility. — Pursues its plans with cool firmness, 
without once busying itself with objects beyond its sphere. 

Fig. 9. — The countenance of a painter — enthusiastic — capa- 
ble of working with quickness, softness, and intelligence ; but 
not of the minute labour of accuracy. 

Fig. 1 0. — Never will man with such a profile become eminent 
in any art or science. — He will unite the love of order and 
industry, truth and goodness, and, in a state of mediocrity, 
will become a most useful and intelligent man. 

Fig. 11 . — The countenance of a hero — active — alike removed 
from hasty rashness and cold delay. — Born to govern. — May 
be cruel, but scarcely can remain unnoticed. 

Fig. 12. — Neither hero, mathematician, nor statesman: a 
rhymer, perhaps, or a wrangling lawyer. 

Fig. 13. — This profile denotes open honesty, or belies its 
conformation. — May attain an eminent degree of good taste, 
but never can be great, when bodily strength and constitu- 
tional courage are requisite. 

Fig. 14. — A great countenance. — Will establish, and ex- 
tend, his power in those regions into which he once has pene- 
trated. — Heroism in every feature, from the forehead to the 
beard. — A mouth of amazing cool fortitude — ready to oppress 
others, difficult to be oppressed himself. 



It has been asked, is there any visible, demonstrable, har- 
mony and coincidence, between moral and corporeal beauty, 
and between moral and corporeal deformity ? Or, if there be 
any real dissonance and disagreement, between moral beauty 
and corporeal deformity, and between moral deformity and 
corporeal beauty \ 

Millions of nature's works will exclaim — " How may this be 
denied !" 

Yet is it necessary this should be demonstrated. May the 
reader hear, and patiently consider, what I have to say ! The 
time, I hope, will come, nay, I might almost promise the time 
shall come ; a better time, when every child shall laugh that 1 
was obliged to demonstrate this. Laugh, perhaps, at the age ; 
or, which is more noble, weep, to remember that there ever 
were men who required such demonstration. 

Let those who are willing listen to the voice of truth. I 
can but stammer some of the documents she has taught me. 

Truth, whether or not received as such, still is truth. It is 
not my declaration that makes that true which is true ; but, 
it being true, I will speak. 

It being granted that man is the work of supreme wisdom, 
is it not infinitely more conformable to wisdom that a harmony 
between physical and moral beauty rather should than should 
not exist ; and that the Author of all moral perfection should 
testify his high good pleasure by the conformity between the 
mental and bodily faculties? Let us only suppose the re- 
verse. — Who could believe in infinite wisdom and goodness, 
and support the thought that, not by accident, or only under 
certain circumstances, but that it was a general law of nature, 
that where the highest moral perfection was, there all physical 
imperfection should be ; that a man the most virtuous should 
be the most deformed ; and that he who was the most exalted, 
most noble, most magnanimous, and greatest benefactor to, 
should be the most deformed of, his species ; that God should 


deny all beauty to virtue, lest it might be thereby recom- 
mended ; that what was most loved by the Deity, and was in 
itself most lovely, should be stamped with the seal of divine 
disapprobation ? — Oh brother, friend of virtue, fellow adorer 
of supreme wisdom, which is pure goodness, who could sup- 
port this, I had almost said, blasphemous supposition ? 

Let us imagine a like dissonance between the capacity for 
receiving knowledge and the conformation of the body. Can 
it be thought agreeable to eternal wisdom to impress the marks 
of stupidity on that body in which understanding resides, and 
is displayed I This, surely, never can be supposed. Yet how 
infinitely less depends upon this than upon the former kind of 
harmony ! How infinitely more incumbent was it on the Au- 
thor of nature to display and perfect the moral, rather than 
the intellectual, part of man ! 

Again, who will suppose it consonant to divine wisdom to 
give the form and appearance of the most strong to the weakest 
body, and of the most weak to the strongest \ (I speak not 
of accidents and exceptions, but of the general course and 
constitution of nature.) Yet would such dissimulation, such 
unworthy juggling, be wisdom and worth, compared with that 
conduct which should place an evident disagreement, through- 
out all nature, between physical and moral beauty ? 

I am, notwithstanding, willing to own that such metaphy- 
sical reasoning, however conclusive it may appear, to certain 
persons, is not always incontrovertible. Facts, the actual 
state of things in nature, must decide ; consequently observa- 
tion and experiment are requisite. 

First, I maintain, what the most inaccurate observer of 
the human countenance can no longer deny, that each state 
of the human mind, and of internal sensation, has its pe- 
culiar expression in the face. Dissimilar passions have not 
similar expressions, neither have similar passions dissimilar 

I maintain, what also no moralist will deny, that certain 
states of mind, certain sensations, and inclinations, are ardent, 
beautiful, noble, sublime, and that they inspire all feeling 
hearts with pleasure, love and joy ; that others, on the con- 


trary, are totally opposite, or repugnant ; disgusting, hateful, 
and terrifying. 

I maintain, what is manifest to every eye, however inex- 
perienced, that there is beauty, or deformity, in the features 
of the face. (At present, I shall confine myself to this.) In 
vain are the singular objections that have been made against 
the actual beauty of the body, and its ever true and consistent 
principles. — Place a handsome and an ugly man beside each 
other, and no person will be found to exclaim of the first, 
How ugly ! or of the last, How handsome ! Let the hand- 
some man disfigure his countenance by grimace ; and people 
of all nations, beholding him, would pronounce him ugly and 
disgusting ; and, recovering his form, would declare he had a 
handsome, intelligent, a beautiful countenance. 

The result of this will be, that, 

The passions of the mind produce their accordant effects on 
the countenance. 

There are such things as moral beauty and deformity ; dis- 
positions, qualities, which attract good and ill-will. 

There are such things as corporeal beauty and deformity, 
in the features of the human countenance. 

We have now to consider whether the expressions of moral 
beauty are corporeally beautiful, and the expressions of cor- 
poreal deformity corporeally deformed ; or, reversing the pro- 
position, whether the expression of moral beauty is deformity, 
and of moral deformity beauty ! — Or are the expressions of 
moral qualities neither beautiful nor deformed ? Or, are they, 
without sufficient cause, sometimes beautiful, sometimes de- 
formed ? 

Let us, for example, take the instantaneous expressions of 
the mind, when it is impassioned. Let the countenances of 
the good and the wicked, the sincere and the deceitful man be 
taken, and shown to a child, a peasant, a connoisseur, or to 
any indifferent person. Let a drawing be made at the moment 
when a noble, and a mean action are performing. Then let it 
be asked which of the countenances are beautiful ; which most 
beautiful ; which most deformed ; and it will be seen that, 
cbild, peasant, and connoisseur, will agree in pronouncing the 



same countenance most beautiful, and the same most de- 

I next inquire, of what passions, what states of mind, are 
those most deformed and most beautiful countenances the 
expressions ? From this inquiry it will be found that the 
most deformed expressions also betoken the most deformed 
states of mind. 

The same is true of all the innumerable shades and combi- 
nations of morally beautiful, and morally deformed, states of 
mind, and their expressions. 

Thus far there appears to be little difficulty in the inquiry ; 
and the next step is as little difficult. 

Each frequently-repeated change, form, and state of coun- 
tenance, impresses, at length, a durable trait on the soft and 
flexible parts of the face. The stronger the change, and the 
oftener it is repeated, the stronger, deeper, and more indelible 
is the trait. We shall hereafter show that the like impression 
is made in early youth, even on the bony parts. 

An agreeable change, by constant repetition, makes an 
impression on, and adds a feature of durable beauty to, the 

A disagreeable change, by constant repetition, makes an 
impression on, and adds a feature of durable deformity to, the 

A number of such beautiful changes, when combined, if not 
counteracted, impart beauty to the face ; and many deformed 
changes impart deformity. 

We have before observed that morally beautiful states of 
the mind impart beautiful impressions. 

Therefore the same changes, incessantly repeated, stamp 
durable expressions of beauty on the countenance. 

Morally deformed states of mind have deformed expres- 
sions ; consequently, if incessantly repeated, they stamp durable 
features of deformity. 

They are, in proportion, stronger, and deeper, the oftener, 
and the stronger, the expressions peculiar to the supposed state 
of mind take place. 

There is no state of mind which is expressed by a single 


part of the countenance, exclusively. Should there be passions 
which are expressed more forcibly by this, than by that fea- 
ture of the face ; which effect strong changes in one part, and 
are scarcely perceptible in another ; still we shall find, from 
attentive observation, that, in all the passions of the mind, 
there is no yielding feature of the countenance which remains 
unchanged. Whatever is true of the effects of one expression 
upon any feature, or part of the countenance, is true of all 
In deformed states of mind, they all change to greater defor- 
mity, and in beautiful states, to superior beauty. The whole 
countenance, when impassioned, is a harmonized, combined 
expression of the present state of the mind. 

Consequently, frequent repetitions of the same state of mind, 
impress, upon every part of the countenance, durable traits of 
deformity or beauty. 

Often repeated states of the mind give liability. Habits are 
derived from propensities, and generate passions. 

The foregoing propositions, combined, will give the following 
theorem : 

The beauty and deformity of the countenance is in a just 
and determinate proportion to the moral beauty and deformity 
of the man. 

The morally best, the most beautiful. 

The morally worst, the most deformed. 

The torrent of objection now bursts all bounds ; I hear its 
roar ; it rushes on, rapid and fearful in its course, against my 
supposed poor hut, in the building of which I had taken such 
delight. — Treat me not, good people, with so much contempt ; 
have patience : mine is not a hut raised on a quicksand, but a 
firm palace, founded on a rock, at the foot of which the torrent, 
dreadful as it is, shall furiously foam in vain. The confidence 
of my speech will, I hope, be pardoned. Confidence is not 
pride ; prove my error, and I will become more humble. 
An objector loudly exclaims, " This doctrine is in contradic- 
tion to daily experience. How numerous are the deformed 
virtuous, and the beautiful vicious !" — Beautiful vicious ! 
Vice with a fair face ! Beauty of complexion, or beauty of 


feature ; which is meant ? — But I will not anticipate. Hear 
my answer. 

I. In the first place, this objection is inapplicable. I only 
affirm virtue beautifies, vice deforms. I do not maintain that 
virtue is the sole cause of human beauty, or vice of deformity ; 
such doctrine would be absurd. Who can pretend there are not 
other more immediate causes of the beauty or deformity of 
the countenance ? Who would dare, who would wish to deny 
that, not only the faculties of the mind, but the original con- 
formation in the mother's womb, and also education, which 
depends not on ourselves, rank, sickness, accident, occupation, 
and climate, are so many immediate causes of beauty and 
deformity among men ? My proposition is perfectly analogous 
to the axiom, that virtue promotes worldly welfare, and that 
vice destroys it. Can it be any real objection to this truth, 
though there are many thousands of the virtuous wretched, 
and of the wicked prosperous ? Is any thing more meant, 
than that, though there are, indeed, many other inevitable and 
co-operating causes of happiness and unhappiness, as well as 
virtue and vice, yet morality is among others one of the most 
active and essential ? The same reasoning will apply to the 
proposition concerning physiognomy. Virtue beautifies, vice 
deforms ; but these are not the sole causes of beauty and 

II. With respect to experience, if we examine accurately, 
we shall find that much is to be deducted from this part of 
the objection. I am inclined to believe that experience will be 
found favourable to our doctrine. Is it not frequently said, 
" I allow she is a handsome woman, but she does not please 
me ; or, even, she is disagreeable to me V On the contrary, 
we say, " He is an ordinary man ; notwithstanding which, I 
liked his countenance at the first sight : I felt myself pre- 
judiced in his favour." On inquiry, it will be found that the 
beauty we could not love, and the deformity with which we 
were pleased, incited our antipathy and sympathy by the 
beautiful or amiable qualities of the mind which had been im- 
pressed upon the countenance. 

Since the pleasing traits of an ugly face, and the displeasing 


of a beautiful, have been so prominent as to act more power- 
fully upon us than the others all combined, is not this a proof 
that these lines of beauty are more excellent, more expressive, 
more noble, than those which are more corporeal 2 

Let it not be said that such sympathies and antipathies are 
raised by frequent conversation, and after the beauties or defor- 
mities of the mind are discovered. How often are they incited 
at the first view ! Neither let it be affirmed that this happens 
in consequence of conclusions drawn concerning the disposition 
of the person ; it having previously been experienced that, in 
similar instances, those who had like features, notwithstanding 
their ugliness, were good ; and others, with certain disagree- 
able traits, notwithstanding their beauty, were bad people. 
This is frequently the case, it is true ; but this does not in- 
validate our proposition. They are equally consistent. Chil- 
dren will convince us how little forcible this objection is, who, 
previous to experience, will look steadfastly, and with pleasure, 
on a countenance which is the reverse of corporeally beautiful, 
but which is impressed with the traits of a beautiful mind ; and 
will, when the contrary is the case, so often begin violently to cry. 

III. In the third place, it is necessary properly to define the 

Were my proposition stated thus, without all qualification — 
" That virtue is beautiful, and vice corporeally deformed," — 
nearly as many objections would be raised as there are various 
opinions concerning the words virtue and vice, moral good and 
evil. The courtier, who pronounces every man virtuous who 
is not flagrantly vicious ; the weak bigot, who declares all is 
evil that is not good according to his model ; the officer, who 
esteems the man of honour, and the soldier obedient to dis- 
cipline, to be the most virtuous ; the vulgar, who account all 
virtuous that are not guilty of the grossest sins ; the peasant, 
who remains virtuous as long as no warrant brings him before 
the justice of the peace ; the narrow moralist, who holds 
nothing to be good that is not acquired by rigid abstinence , 
with whom virtue is absolute stoicism ; each, and all of these, 
according to their several conceptions, will rise up and witness 
against a proposition so indeterminate, so replete with paradox. 


The objector, however, ought to have remarked that I here 
understand the words virtue and vice in their most extensive 
signification ; or that 1 am, properly, speaking only in general 
of moral beauty and deformity. I class with the former, all 
that is noble, good, benevolent, or tending to effect good pur- 
poses, which can have place in the mind ; and, in the latter, all 
that is ignoble, evil, mean, and inimical. 

It may happen that one possessed of many excellent quali- 
ties, and who long has practised virtue, at length may yield to 
the force of passion, and, in so great a degree, that all the 
world, according to the general sense of the word, may justly 
pronounce him vicious. Will it therefore be said, " There is 
vicious beauty ! Where is your harmony between virtue and 
beauty V 

Has it not been already premised that such a person had 
excellent dispositions, and much good, and that he had long 
encouraged and established the goodness of his character ? 

He therefore had, and still has, goodness worthy of emula- 
tion ; and the more habitual it is to him, the deeper root the 
first virtuous impressions took, the more conspicuous and firm 
are the traits of beauty imprinted upon his countenance. The 
roots and stem still are visible, though some alien branch may 
have been ingrafted. The soil and its qualities are apparent, 
notwithstanding that tares have been sown among the wheat. 
Is it not, therefore, easy to conceive that the countenance 
may continue fair, although the man has yielded to vice ? This 
but confirms the truth of our proposition. 

Indeed, an eye but little experienced will discover that such 
a countenance was still more beautiful, previous to the domi- 
nion of this passion ; and that it is, at present, in part de- 
formed. How much less pleasing, alas ! how much more 
harsh, and disagreeable, than formerly, though it may not 
have arrived at that state which Gellert describes ! 

His morn of youth how wondrous fair ! 

How beauteous was his bloom ! 
But ah ! he stray'd from virtue's paths, 

And pangs his life consume. 


His wasted form, his livid eye, 

His haggard aspect pale, 
Of many a hidden, hideous vice, 

Recount a fearful tale. 

I have known handsome, and good young men, who, in a 
few years, by debauchery and excess, have been totally altered. 
They were still generally termed handsome, and so, indeed, 
they were, but, good God ! how different was their present 
from their former beauty ! 

Men, on the contrary, may be found with ignoble disposi- 
tions and passions, the empire of which has been confirmed by 
education. They may, for years, have been subject to these 
passions, till they have become truly ugly. Such persons may, 
at length, combat their vices, with their whole force, and 
sometimes, obtain no small victory. They, from the best of 
motives, may restrain, and even eradicate, the most glaring ; 
and, in the strictest sense of the word, may be called truly 
virtuous. There is a moral judge, whose decision is infinitely 
superior to ours, that will behold, in such persons, greater 
virtues than in any who are by nature inclined to goodness. 
These, however, will be brought as examples of the deformed 
virtuous. So be it ; such deformities, nevertheless, are only 
faithful expressions of the vices which long were predominant, 
and the multitude of which do but enhance the worth of pre- 
sent virtue. How much greater was the deformity of the 
features before the power of this virtue was felt, and how 
much more beautiful have they since become ! Socrates, who 
s brought as an example by all physiognomists, and their op- 
ponents, may here most properly be cited ; but to him a sepa- 
rate fragment must be dedicated. 

Let it be further considered — there are a multitude of 
minute, mean, disgusting thoughts, manners, incivilities, 
whims, excesses, degrading attachments, obscenities, follies, 
obliquities of the heart, which, singly, or collectively, men are 
far from denominating vice ; yet a number of such, combined, 
may greatly debase and deform the man. While he remains 
honest in his dealings, without any notorious vice, and adds to 
this something of the economy of the citizen, he will be called 


a good fellow, an excellent fellow, against whom no man has 
any thing to allege ; and, certainly, there are great numbers 
of such good, ugly, fellows. — I hope I have been sufficiently 
explicit on this subject. 

IV. In the fourth place, it is necessary to take a more dis- 
tant view of the harmony between moral and corporeal beauty, 
by which, not only many objections will vanish, but the sub- 
ject on which we treat will, also, become more interesting. 

We must not only consider the immediate effects of morality 
and immorality, on the beauty of the human countenance, but 
their immediate consequences, as they relate to the general 
corporeal beauty or deformity of the human race. I walk in 
the multitude, I contemplate the vulgar ; I go through vil- 
lages, small towns, and great, and every where, among all 
ranks, I behold deformity ; I view the lamentable, the dread- 
ful ravages of destruction. 

I constantly find that the vulgar, collectively, whether of 
nation, town, or village, are the most distorted. 

I am afflicted at the sight of ugliness, so universal ; and my 
wounded soul, my offended eyes, wander till they find some 
man, but moderately handsome, on whom they are fixed ; 
although he by no means is the perfection of human beauty. 
That beauteous image of happiness haunts me, which man 
might possess, but from which man, alas ! is so remote. 

How often do I meditate on this, the most beauteous of all 
races, the noblest in its face, and ask, why is it thus sunken 
in deformity, in the abyss of abominations ? 

The more I reflect, the more I find that men individually, 
as well as the whole race, contribute to produce this degrada- 
tion ; and, consequently, that man has the power of becoming 
more beautiful, more perfect : the more too am I convinced 
that virtue and vice, with all their shades, and in their most 
remote consequences, are beauty and deformity. This is 
doubly proved. 

And first, a relaxation of morality increases in a thousand 
instances, great and small, a degradation and ignoble debase- 
ment, while moral powers, energy, activity, and the ardour of 
imitation, produce the contrarv, and generate every disposition 


to the beautiful and the good ; and, consequently, to their 

Degradation is gradual, and manifests itself in innumerable 
distortions, proportionate to the predominant vices, if not 
counteracted by some more just and ardent incitement to 

Wherever, on the contrary, virtue and philanthropy reign, 
without adverting to the immediate pleasing effects, how 
beautiful, how prominent is the picture they imprint, how 
attractive are the added traits ! The real philanthropist is 
active, mild, gentle ; not timid, indolent, stupid, abject, capri- 
cious ; not — in short, I might enumerate a hundred negative 
and positive qualities, which beautify the human countenance, 
the earlier this philanthropy, this supreme of virtues, this soul 
of every virtue, is awakened in the mind, even though but 
feebly awakened, by which it may produce its various beautiful 

What still is more conclusive, respecting this question, and 
removes most objections, is that — virtue and vice, morality and 
immorality, in their most extensive signification, have numerous 
immediate consequences in rendering the forms of children 
ugly or beautiful. How justly, hence, may we answer such 
questions as — " Wherefore has this child, which, from infancy, 
has been educated with so much care, and is itself so tractable 
and virtuous, this child so much better than its father who 
died while it was an infant, still so much of the disgusting and 
the hateful in its countenance I" — The question ought to be, 
why has it retained so much, why inherited so much from 
its parent ? 

I know no error more gross or palpable than the following, 
which has been mentioned by such great men. " Every thing 
in man depends on education, instruction, and example ; and 
nothing on organization, and the original formation of the 
body ; for these latter are alike in all." 

Helvetius has, in his great enthusiasm for the improvement 
of the human race, that is to say, of education, carried this 
doctrine so far, contrary to the most evident experience, that, 
while I read, I scarcely could believe my eyes. 


I shall have various opportunities, in the following fragments, 
to speak of propositions that relate to this subject. 

At present thus much only. 

It will be as difficult to find any two children that perfectly 
resemble each other, as it would be to find any two men. 

Let a child be taken from a mother, who is not void of sen- 
sibility ; let her but attentively observe it, for two minutes 
after its birth, and let it be placed among a hundred other 
children of the same town or district ; no matter though the 
inhabitants bear the most general resemblance to each other ; 
she still would, certainly, soon select it from among the hundred. 

It is likewise a fact universally acknowledged, that new born 
children, as well as those of riper growth, greatly resemble 
their father or mother, or sometimes both, as well in the for- 
mation of the body as in particular features. 

It is a fact, equally well known, that we observe, in the tem- 
per, especially of the youngest children, a striking similarity 
to the temper of the father, or of the mother, or sometimes 

How often do we find in the son the character, constitution, 
and most of the moral qualities of the father ! In how many a 
daughter does the character of the mother revive! Or the 
character of the mother in the son, and of the father in the 
daughter ! 

As a proof that character is not the result of education, we 
need but remark, that brothers and sisters, who have received 
the same education, are very unlike in character. Helve tius 
himself, who allows so little to the primary qualities and dis- 
positions of children, by the very rules and arts he teaches, to 
cherish or counteract the temper, as it unfolds itself, grants, 
in reality, that moral propensities are absolutely different in 
every individual child. 

And how much soever such original properties of constitu- 
tion and temper, such moral propensities, may be modified by 
education ; how possible soever it may be to render the worst 
valuable ; yet is it indubitable that some dispositions, although 
they all, in a certain sense, are good, are generally confessed 
by men to be originally good in gradation ; that some among 


them, under equal circumstances, are more pliable, docile, and 
capable of improvement ; and that others are more obstinate, 
and less manageable. The guilt or innocence of the child is 
not here called in question. No rational man will maintain 
that a child, even with the worst dispositions, has, therefore, 
any moral turpitude. 

We have proved, as was incumbent on us, 

That features and forms are inherited ; 

That moral propensities are inherited. 

The above propositions having been demonstrated, who will 
any longer doubt that a harmony exists between the inherited 
features and forms, and the inherited moral propensities ? 

This being ascertained, and since the deformities of the 
mind, and consequently of the body, and of the body, conse- 
quently of the mind, may be inherited, we have obtained the 
most conclusive reason why so many men, born handsome, de- 
generate, whose deformity is yet by no means of an extreme 
degree ; and, in like manner, why so many others, born ugly, 
improve by becoming virtuous ; and who, yet, are by no means 
so handsome as some who are far less good. 

We cannot but remark how eternally prominent is the 
harmony between moral and corporeal beauty, and how it is 
established by the foregoing proofs. 

Let us suppose men of the most beautiful and noblest form, 
and that they, and their children, become morally degenerate ; 
abandon themselves to their passions, and progressively, be- 
come more and more vicious. How will these men, or their 
countenances at least, be, from generation to generation, de- 
formed! What bloated, depressed, turgid, stupid, disfigured, 
and haggard features ! What variety of more or less gross, 
vulgar, caricatures, will rise in succession, from father to son ! 
Deformity will increase. How many of the children, at first, the 
perfect images of their degenerate parents, will, by education, 
become, themselves, still more degenerate, will display fewer 
tokens of goodness, and more early symptoms of vice ! — How 
deep in degeneracy, how distant* is man, from that perfect 
beauty with which, by thy fatherly mercy, oh God ! he was 
at first endowed! How is thy image deformed, by sin, and 


changed even to fiend-like ugliness ; ugliness, which afflicted 
benevolence scarcely dares contemplate! Licentiousness, sen- 
suality, gluttony, avarice, debauchery, malignity, passions, 
vices, what deformities do you present to my sight! How 
have you disfigured my brother ! 

Let us add to this an inseparable truth, which is that, not 
only the flexible and the solid parts of the countenance, but, 
also, the whole system, bones, and muscles, figure, complexion, 
voice, gait, and smell, every member corresponding with the 
countenance, may be vitiated and deformed, or rendered more 
beautiful. Let us remark this, and preserve, by drawing, 
what we remark ; or rather let us have recourse to living ex- 
amples. Let us compare the inhabitants of a house of correc- 
tion, where we find the stupid, the indolent, and the drunken, 
with some other society, in a more improved state. However 
imperfect it may be, yet will the difference be visible. Let 
them be compared to a society of enthusiasts, or a club of me- 
chanics, and how lively will the testimony be in favour of our 
proposition ! Nay more, it will awaken feelings for ourselves, 
and others, which, however afflicting they may be, still, will 
be salutary ; and this is the very end I wish to obtain. 

But man is not made only to fall ; he is again capable of 
rising to an eminence higher than that from which he fell. 
Take the children of the most ordinary persons, let them be 
the exact image of their parents ; let them be removed, and 
educated in some public, well-regulated seminary ; their pro- 
gress from deformity towards beauty will be visible. Arrived 
at the state of puberty, let them be placed in circumstances 
that shall not render the practice of virtue difficult, and under 
which they shall have no temptations to vice ; let them inter- 
marry ; let an active impulse to improvement be supposed ; let 
only a certain portion of care and industry, though not of the 
highest kind, be employed in the education of their descen- 
dants, and let these descendants continue to intermarry; what 
a handsome race of men will the fifth or sixth generation pro- 
duce, if no extraordinary accidents intervene ! Handsome, 
not only in the features of the countenance, but in the solid 
parts of the head, in the whole man, accompanied by content- 


merit, and other virtues. Industry, temperance, cleanliness, 
are produced ; and, with these, if some care be taken in edu- 
cation, regular muscles, also a good complexion, a well-formed 
body, suppleness, activity ; while the deformities which are the 
consequence of infirmities, and a feeble constitution, will be 
prevented ; since these good properties, these virtues, are 
always attended by health, and a free growth of the limbs. — 
In short, there is no part of corporeal beauty, no feature of 
man, which virtue and vice, in the most extensive sense, may 
not influence. 

What benevolent heart but must rejoice at the recollec- 
tion ! How great is the power which God has given to beauty 
over the heart of man ! What are thy feelings, oh man of 
benevolent sensibility, when thou beholdest the sublime works 
of antiquity, when thou viewest the divine creations of men 
and angels, by Raphael, Guido, Mengs, West, Fuseli ! Speak, 
what are thy emotions, how ardent thy desires for the im- 
proving, the beautifying, the ennobling of our fallen nature ! 

Promoters, lovers, and inventors of the finest arts, and the 
sublimest sciences ; ye wealthy, who merit gratitude for the 
rewards you bestow on the works of genius, and ye, sons of 
genius, by whom these works are produced, attend to this 
truth. — You are in search of perfection. For this you deserve 
our thanks. Would you render man the most perfect, the 
most beautiful of objects, deformed ? — Oh no ! — Prevent him 
not, therefore, from being good. Be not indifferent whether 
he be good or evil ; but employ those divine powers with 
which you are endowed, to render him good, so shall you ren- 
der him beautiful. 

The harmony of virtue and beauty, of vice and deformity, is 
an extensive, a vast, a noble field for the exercise of your art. 
Think not you can make man more beautiful without making 
him better. The moment you would improve his body and 
neglect his mind, the moment you would form his taste at the 
expense of his virtue, you contribute to render him vicious. 
Your efforts will then be in vain. He will become deformed, 
and his son, and his son's son, shall continue to degenerate. 
Your labours then how erroneous ! 


When, oli artists ! will you cease to seek reputation by toys 
and tricks, or to what purpose? It is as though he who 
would build a palace should employ his carver, or his gilder, 
as an architect. 

Do you hope to form the taste by licentious imagery? 
You hope m vain ; it is as though you would teach your sons 
continence by reading them obscene lectures, the tendency of 
which is but to inflame the passions. 
Of this enough. 

T shall conclude with a text of sublime consolation to my- 
self and all others who have good reason to be dissatisfied with 
many parts of the form and physiognomy of themselves, which, 
perhaps, are incapable of improvement, and who yet strive 
after the perfecting of the inward man. 

" It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory." 


Numerous traits of beauty and deformity are too minute to 
be traced by the pencil or the engraver ; and whenever they 
can be made visible upon paper, they must, then, be strong, 
indubitable, and convincing. 


Nature forms no such countenance ; at least, no such 
mouth. — Vice only can thus disfigure. — Rooted unbounded 
avarice. — Thus does brutal insensibility deform Gods own 
image. — Enormous depravity has destroyed all the beauty, all 
the resemblance. Can any benevolent, wise, or virtuous man, 
look, or walk, thus? — Where is the man, however unobser- 
vant, daring enough to maintain the affirmative * 


A degree still more debased— a countenance by vice ren- 
dered fiend-like, abhorrent to nature, in which falaciousness is 
sunken almost below brutality—Every spark of sensibility, 
humamty, nature, is extinguished.-Distortion, deformity in 



//},>//, .><■„/, 


excess — and though sensuality should not appear with this 
particular kind of ugliness, yet, may it not incur ugliness still 
more dreadful ? — Whoever has frequently viewed the human 
countenance in houses of correction and jails, will often scarcely 
believe his eyes, will shudder at the stigmas with which vice 
brands her slaves. 


Here are traits of drunkenness combined with thoughtless 
stupidity. Who can look without disgust? Would these 
wretches have been what they are, had they not, by vice, 
erased nature's marks ? — Can perversion be more apparent than 
in the middle profile I Fig. 3 — the last stage of brutal corrup- 
tion, apparent most in the under part of the male, Fig. 6 ; and 
in the forehead, and nose of the female, Fig. 5, (the ears not 
included). Can any supposition be more absurd than that such 
a countenance should be the abode of a wise, a virtuous, or 
an exalted mind ? 

We turn with horror from nature thus debased, and re- 
joice that millions of people afford not any countenance so 


What heart can sympathize with any one of tnese counte- 
nances ? Who will expect from any one of them perpetual 
virtue, pure love, noble benevolence, or the high efforts of 
genius ? 

1. Immoveable icy coldness, without a spark of sensibility. 

2. Rudeness, phlegm ; false, feeble, dull, ridicule. 

3. The contempt of a vulgar girl. 

4. Sensual desire, without individual love. 

5. Ogling of a low, crafty sensualist. 

6. Chagrin of contempt returned. 

7. Perfect levity. 

8. Moral relaxation. 

9. Malignity, ignorance, brutal lust. 

10. 11. Anger — contempt — the rage of an offended villain, 
without great strength or courage. How much of the noble, 


the prudent, the forbearing, the experience and worth of age, 
is visible in the posture and countenance of 12. And of the 
unfeeling, the rude, the contemptuous, in 13. Yet is the 
mouth too good for this posture, and this aspect. 


Fig. 1, 2. — The spirit of projecting — want of wisdom — 
brutal boasting wrinkle the countenance of 1. 2, Is the 
image of blood-thirsty cruelty ; unfeeling, without a trait 
of humanity. 

Fig. 3. — Virtue, noble simplicity, goodness, open confi- 
dence, are not discoverable here. Unbounded avarice, un- 
feeling wickedness, knavery unequalled, in the eye and mouth, 
eradicate every pleasing impression. It is possible this coun- 
tenance might not have looked much better previous to its 
degradation, but vice only could produce the full effect we 


Fig. 1. — The visage of a satyr, distorted thus by sensuality. 
— Careless insensibility. — An excess of stupid brutality. 

Fig. 2. — A countenance not remarkable for the beauty, 
but the harmony of its features — pleasing, because calm, dis- 
passionate, benevolent, noble, wise. Let this countenance be 
compared with Fig. 4, 5, 6, and then, reader, be you friend 
or opponent, say whether you can doubt that vice distorts, 
deforms ; or that virtue bestows that which charms, delights, 
and beautifies, if not the form, at least the features of the 
countenance. For, where is the virtue, which, as virtue, does 
not charm, and where the vice, which, as vice, does not deform ? 
Grant me this, and I require no more. 

Fig. 3. — Thus does a continual repetition of extreme con- 
tempt distort the mouth ; thus infix itself with traits not to 
be effaced ; thus deform a countenance which, not stigmatized 
by this vice, would probably have been amiable. 

Fig. 4 to 7. — Let us ascend a few steps, and relieve our- 
selves with expressions of nobler passions. Who will not sur- 
vey these four heads with internal sympathetic pleasure? 


And wherefore? Because moral beauty, in action, is im- 
pressed upon each of these countenances. Thus only can 
the noble mind languish, weep, love ; thus only can be agitated, 
as in 4, 5, 6, 7. 

The well-known judgment of the physiognomist Zopyrus, 
concerning Socrates — 

" That he was stupid, brutal, sensual, and addicted to 
drunkenness — " 

Has been repeatedly cited in modern times against physi- 
ognomy; but this science has been as repeatedly supported 
by the answer of Socrates, to his disciples, who ridiculed the 
judgment of the physiognomist. 

" By nature I am addicted to all these vices, and they were 
only restrained, and vanquished, by the continual practice of 
virtue. 11 

Permit me to add something on this subject. 

However insignificant, in itself, this anecdote may be, or 
though, like anecdotes in general, it should be but half true, 
yet is it pregnant with physiognomonical discussion. 

Let us suppose it to be literal truth ; what will be the con- 
sequence ? 

It will not militate against physiognomy, whatever it may do 
against the knowledge of Zopyrus. 

Suppose that Zopyrus was mistaken, that he overlooked all 
traits of excellence, and dwelt upon the rude, the massy. How 
will this injure the science of physiognomy ? 

That physiognomist who, from his zeal for the science, 
should affirm, " I never err, 11 would be like the physician who, 
from the ardour of his zeal for the honour of his art, should 
affirm, " My patients never die." 

Whoever, because of one, or one hundred, errors of the 
physiognomist, should reject the science of physiognomy, would 
be like the man who, because there are ignorant physicians, or 
because that the patients of the greatest physicians die, should 
reject all physical aid. 

But to come nearer to the point. 


All antiquity, certainly, attests that Socrates had a very 
ordinary countenance. 

All the busts of Socrates, however different from each other, 
still have a similarity of ugliness. To this we may add what 
was said by Alcibiades, who, certainly, was well acquainted 
with Socrates, as he also was with what was beautiful, and 
what deformed ; " That he resembled the figure of Silenus."* 
I understand the remark of Alcibiades to refer to the general 
form of the countenance. We perceive there can be no doubt 
of the ugliness of Socrates. 

Yet was Socrates, from all that we know concerning him, 
the wisest, best, most incomparable of men. Be this all granted ; 
we shall ever carefully avoid denying what is highly probable 
in order to establish our own propositions. 

" Consequently, the wisest and best of men had the counte- 
nance of the most stupid and debauched ; or, rather, had a 
gross, rude, forbidding, ugly, countenance." How may this 
objection be answered ? 

I. The deformity of Socrates was, in the opinion of most 
who maintain the circumstance, a thing so remarkable, so 
extraordinary, that it was universally considered as a contra- 
diction, an anomaly of nature. — Accurately examined, is this 
for or against physiognomy ? — A direct contrary relation, be- 
tween the external and internal, was expected. This want of 
conformity, this dissonance, produced general astonishment. — 
Let any one determine what was the origin of their general 
expectation and astonishment. 

II. Were this dissonance as great as it has been asserted 
to be, it will only form an exception to a general rule, which 
will be as little conclusive against physiognomy, as a child 
born with twelve fingers would against the truth, that men 
have five fingers on each hand. We must allow there 
are unusual exceptions, mistakes of nature, errors of the 
press, if I may so speak, which as little destroy the legibility, 
and the explicabih'ty of the human countenance, as ten or 

* It is difficult, says Winckelmann, for human nature to be more 
debased than in the figure of Silenus. 

SOCttATES. 115 

twenty errors, in a large volume, would render the whole unin- 

III." This, however, is capable of a very different answer ; 
and the best reply that I can make is, that — " Characters, 
pregnant with strong and contending powers, generally contain 
in the great mass, the prominent features of the face, some- 
what of severe, violent, and perplexed ; consequently are very 
different from what the Grecian artists, and men of taste, name 
beauty. While the signification, the expression, of such pro- 
minent features are not studied and understood, such counte- 
nances will offend the eye that searches only for beauty." The 
countenance of Socrates is manifestly of this kind. 

IV. In the study of physiognomy, it cannot be too much 
inculcated, nor too often repeated, by a writer on the science, 
that dispositions, and their development, talents, powers, their 
application and use, the solid and flexible parts, the prominent 
and fugitive traits must be most accurately distinguished, if 
we would form an accurate judgment on the human counte- 
nance. This appears to have been neglected in the judgment 
formed on the countenance of Socrates. Zopyrus, Alcibiades, 
Aristotle, most of the physiognomists with whom I am ac- 
quainted, all its opponents, nay, its very defenders, have, in 
this, been deficient. 

To the unphysiognomonical eye, the form of the countenance 
of Socrates might aj)pear distorted, although the mutable fea- 
tures might have displayed celestial beauty. 

A man of the best native inclinations may degenerate, and 
another with the worst may become good. The noblest talents 
may rust in indolence, and the most moderate, by industry, be 
astonishingly improved. If the first dispositions were excellent, 
it will require an acute observer to read their neglect in the 
countenance, especially if unimpassioned. In like manner, if 
they were unfavourable, it will require the most experienced 
eye to read their improvement. Original dispositions are most 
discoverable in the form of the solid and prominent parts ; and 
their development, and application, in the flexible features. — 
Whoever is accustomed to attend only to the flexible traits, 
and their motion, and has not, as often happens, devoted him- 


self to the study of the solid parts, and permanent traits, he, 
like Zopyrus, in the countenance of Socrates, will neither dis- 
cover what is excellent, and characteristic of the disposition, 
nor the improvement of what may have been apparently bad ; 
consequently his judgment must be erroneous. It is incumbent 
upon me to make this evident. Be it supposed that the great 
propensities of Socrates were prominent in his countenance, 
though it were rude and unpleasing, and that these permanent 
features were not studied, but that the gross, rude, massy 
traits met the acute eye of the Greek, who was in search of 
beauty alone. Be it further supposed, as each observer will 
remark, that the improvement of all, which may be denomi- 
nated bad in the disposition, is only visible when the features 
are in action. Nothing will then be more probable than phy- 
siognomonical error, or more plausible than false conclusions 
against the science. 

V. I have repeatedly spoken of good and bad dispositions : 
the elucidation of my subject requires that I should here ex- 
plain myself with greater accuracy. 

A man born with the happiest propensities or dispositions 
may become bad ; or with the most unfortunate, may, after his 
own manner, become good. 

To speak with precision, no man has good or bad disposi- 
tions ; no man is born either vicious or virtuous ; we must be 
children before we are men, and children are neither born with 
vice or virtue : they are innocent. Time will improve some 
few to a high degree of virtue, and sink some few others to as 
low a degree of vice. The multitude will find a medium : they 
appear to want the power of being either virtuous or vicious in 
any extraordinary degree. All, however, whom for a moment 
we have considered innocent, all sin, as all die ; none may 
escape sin and death. By sin I mean a propensity to sensual 
gratifications, which are attended with a troubled conscience, 
and the degradation of the native powers. I shall just observe 
that original sin, that subject of ridicule in this our philosophic 
age, is, in this sense, most demonstrable to a true philosopher, 
a dispassionate observer of nature. 

It is no less true, to speak philosophically, that is, according 

-3D ClfiA-TlS^ 

•r,„/A .,,-„/. 



to experience, that there is, originally, only physical irritability 
in men, however great their progress may afterwards be in vice 
or virtue ; an impulse to act, to exist, to extend the faculties ; 
which impulse, considered as the spring of action, is good ; but 
which has in itself neither morality nor immorality. If this 
irritability, this power, be so formed that it is generally ad- 
dicted, being surrounded by certain objects, or placed under 
such and such, almost unavoidable, circumstances, to bad 
thoughts and bad actions, which disturb the peace and hap- 
piness of mankind ; if they are so formed that, in the present 
state of the world and its inhabitants, they have scarcely the 
power of being employed to good, they are then called immoral 
propensities ; and moral, when they are, generally speaking, 
the reverse. 

Experience indubitably teaches us that where the power and 
irritability are great, there, also, will numerous passions take 
birth which will generally induce immoral thoughts and actions. 

" Helvetius says, the abuse of power (and the same may be 
said of all the faculties of man) is as inseparable from power 
as the effect from the cause. 1 ' 

" Qui peut tout ce qu'il veut, veut plus que ce qu'il doit."* 

Hence the sense of the affirmation that man has evil pro- 
pensities, is clear. It might as well be affirmed he has the 
best propensities ; since nothing more is meant than that, 
with respect to certain objects, he is or is not irritable. It is 
possible he may apply his proportion of power to good, though 
it is often applied to evil ; that circumstances may happen 
which shall produce irritability where it is wanting, or that he 
shall remain unmoved under the strongest incitements ; con- 
sequently, that either virtue itself is there, or an appeai-ance 
of virtue, which will be called virtue and strength of mind. 

VI. Let us apply what has been said to an engraving of 
Socrates, with which we here present our readers in Plate 

According to this head, after Reubens, which we shall first 
consider, Socrates had certainly great propensities to become 

* He who can do all he will, will do more than he ought. 


eminent. If he resembled this copy, and I have no doubt but 
that his appearance was better, for this may be the twentieth 
copy, each of which is less accurate, the declaration oi 
Zopyrus, that he was stupid, was incontrovertibly erroneous ; 
nor was Socrates less mistaken when he was so ready to allow 
that he was, by nature, weak. It may have been, and perhaps 
was, an inevitable effect of the weight of these features, that 
the perspicuity of his understanding was, sometimes, as if 
enveloped by a cloud. But had Zopyrus, or any true physi- 
ognomist, been accustomed accurately to remark the perma- 
nent parts of the human face, he never could have said 
Socrates was naturally stupid. 

Whoever considers this forehead as the abode of stupidity, 
has never been accustomed to observe the forehead. If Zo- 
pyrus, or any other ancient, has held this arching, this pro- 
minence, or these cavities, as tokens of stupidity, I can only 
answer they have never been accustomed to consider or com- 
pare foreheads. How great soever the effects of a good or 
bad education, of fortunate or disastrous circumstances, and 
whatever other influence, of better or worse, may become, a 
forehead like this will ever remain the same, with respect to 
its great outlines of character, and never can escape the 
accurate physiognomist. In these high and roomy arches, 
undoubtedly, the spirit dwells which will penetrate clouds 
of difficulties, and vanquish hosts of impediments. 

The sharpness also of the eyebones, the eyebrows, the knit- 
ting of the muscles between the brows, the breadth of the 
nose, the depth of the eyes, the projection of the pupil under 
the eyelid, how does each separately, and all combined, testify 
the great natural propensities of the understanding, or rather 
the powers of the understanding called forth ! — And how in- 
ferior must this twentieth or thirtieth copy be, compared to 
the original ! What painter, however good, is accurate in his 
foreheads ? Nay, where is the shade that defines them justly ? 
How much less an engraving from the last of a succession of 
copies ! 

"This countenance, however, has nothing of that noble 
simplicity, that cool, tranquil, artless, unassuming candour, so 


much admired in the original. Something of deceit and sen- 
suality are clearly perceptible in the eye." 

In the countenance before us, yes ; but a countenance of 
this pregnancy and power may exert an astonishing degree of 
force in the command of its passions, and by such exertion 
may become what others are from a kind of imbecility ; and 
further, I affirm the living countenance may have traits too 
evident to be mistaken, which yet no art of the painter, 
no stroke of the engraver, can express. This subject was 
slightly mentioned in a former fragment : I here repeat, with 
a greater degree of precision, — 

The most disgusting vices are often concealed under the 
fairest faces ; some minute trait, inexpressible- by the graver, 
to be seen only occasionally, when the features are in motion, 
will denote the most enormous vice. Similar deceptions are 
found in a distorted, or rather in a strong and pregnant 
countenance ; such as is that of Socrates. The most beau- 
teous, noble, and active characteristics of wisdom and virtue, 
may discover themselves only by certain indefinable traits, 
visible to a spectator when the features are in action. 

The greatest likenesses of such faces, which are strikingly 
like because of the strength and sharpness of the prominent 
features, are, for that very reason, generally, libels on the 
originals. The present portrait of Socrates, although it might 
have been called the strongest of likenesses, by the multitude, 
might yet have been the greatest of libels upon the man. To 
exaggerate the prominent, and to omit the minute, is a libel- 
lous rule alike for the reasoner or the painter. Of this, all 
sophistical reasoners, all vile painters, avail themselves. In 
this light I consider most of the portraits of Socrates. I 
think it probable, nay certain, with respect to myself, that 
the countenance would, on the first view, have produced simi- 
lar effects. The sharp, compressed, and heavy parts shocked, 
or bedimmed, the eye of the Greek, accustomed to consider 
beauteous forms, so that the spirit of the countenance escaped 
his penetration. The mind is invisible to those who under- 
stand not the body of physiognomy, that is to say, the out- 
lines and form of the solid parts. 


VII. The engraving we have in view, the rational physi- 
ognomist will say, is, at least, as remarkable, as extraordinary, 
as was the character of Socrates. — This may well lead us to 
suspect that there is still a possibility left of reconciling it to 
the science of physiognomy. 

Much we have seen; more we have to see. — We boldly 
affirm there are traits in this countenance expressive of extra- 
ordinary greatness, fortitude unshaken; however degrading 
single features may be, the whole bears the stamp of manly 
perseverance. — To what we have already said in its favour, we 
shall further add — in the upper part of the chin is powerful 
understanding ; and, in the lower, strength and courage, 
which denote an almost total absence of fear. The thick 
short neck, below, is, by the general judgment of all nations, 
the feature of resolution — Stiff-necked. 

If we remember that, in painting such countenances, the 
large traits are always rendered somewhat more large, that 
the more minute lines of the countenance in action are want- 
ing, and that, though the likeness is preserved, still the soul is 
fled from the face, we shall not be surprised to find, in this 
countenance, so much of the great, and of the little ; of the 
inviting, and the forbidding. 

Of this we should certainly be convinced could we contem- 
plate living nature. How differently would these immoveable 
eyes speak, could we behold them animated, inspecting the 
soul of the listener, while the noble Greek was teaching honour 
towards God, hope of immortality, simplicity, and purity of 
heart ! — Can any man of observation doubt of this ? 

This, now so fatal, mouth, which may be proved not to have 
been accurately drawn, as it also may that much which all 
living mouths have is here wanting, do you not feel, oh ! phi- 
lanthropists ! oh ! men of observation .' that it must assume a 
form infinitely different in a moment so picturesque ? 

Let me be permitted a short digression; suffer me to 
bewail the artist and the painter. 

Designers, statuaries, and painters, usually caricature na- 
ture in those parts where she has somewhat caricatured her- 
self. They generallv are ready to seize those unfortunate 


moments, those moments of relaxed indolence, into which the 
persons who sit or stand to them sink, with such facility, and 
into which it is almost impossible to prevent sinking. These 
they perpetuate, because imitation is then most easy, and 
incite exclamation, or perhaps laughter, in the spectator. A 
likeness is given by a portrait painter as it is by a satirist ; 
we know who the picture is meant for, though it is wwlike. 
Satires and bad portraits ever find superficial admirers, but 
for such the artist should not labour ; his great endeavour 
should be to portray the beauty of truth, and thus secure the 
admiration of those who are worthy to admire. 

The lucky moment of the countenance of man, the moment 
of actual existence, when the soul, with all her faculties, 
rushes into the face, like the rising sun, when the features are 
tinged with heavenly serenity, who seeks, who patiently awaits 
this moment? By whom are such, by whom can such, 
moments be depicted ? 

IX. We return to Socrates. 

He confessed that industry, that the exercise of his facul- 
ties, had amended his character. This, according to our 
principles, ought to be expressed in the countenance. But 
where and how ? It was not visible in the solid parts, but it 
was in the flexible features, and, particularly, in their action 
and illumination, which no painting, much less engraving, can 
express. A strong degree of debasement must, also, still 
exist in Socrates, consequently, might still be perceptible in 
his countenance. Have not the wisest their moments, their 
hours, of folly ? the best their intervals of passion, and vice, 
if not in act, at least, in thought? — Must Socrates, alone, 
stand an exception ? 

On summing up all these considerations concerning the 
countenance of Socrates, and this physiognomonical anecdote, 
will they oppose, or support, the science of physiognomy ? 

X. I am willing to grant that heavenly wisdom, sometimes, 
condescends to reside in wretched earthly vessels, despicable in 
the eyes of men, in vindication of its own honour, which must 
not be attributed to mortal man ; and that its true beauty may 


remain concealed, nay, be reviled by the multitude, that these 
vessels may not ascribe to themselves that worth and those 
qualities which are the gift of God. 

XI. But never will I allow that actual reformation, pre- 
eminent wisdom, proved fortitude, and berioc virtue, can exist, 
and not be impressed upon tbe countenance, unless it volun- 
tarily distorts itself, or is distorted by accident. 

But what is the dead Socrates to us? How much more 
might we have learnt from him in the moment of living exist- 
ence ! Let us rather take an animated being, and thence 
determine who most has reason, the antagonist, or the defender 
of physiognomy. 

Let the opponent bring the wisest and best man he knows, 
\\ ith the most stupid or vicious countenance. The search will 
be tedious ere such a one be found ; and, when found, we will 
discuss wh:it may seem contradictory, according to our prin- 
ciples, and will own ourselves confuted, if it he not confessed 
that the man proves either not so good and wise as he was 
suppnstMl, or that there are manifest traits of excellent wisdom 
and goodness which had passed unobserved. 



These heads, all copied after antiques, appear to be great, 
or, at least, tolerable, likenesses of Socrates ; an additional 
proof that, in all copies of a remarkable countenance, we may 
believe something, but ought not to believe too much. 

First, it may be said, that all the eight profiles, of the two 
annexed plates, have a striking resemblance to each other ; and 
that it is immediately manifest they all represent the same 
person. We find in all the same baldness, the same kind of 
locks, the same blunt nose, the same cavity under the forehead, 
and the same character of the massive in the whole. 

And, to this it may be answered, that however difficult it 
may be to compare eight portraits, so similar, yet, an expe- 
rienced eye will perceive very essential differences. 



The foreheads, in 1, of the first, and 6, and 8, of the second 
plate, are more perpendicular than the others. Among the 
eight there is not one weak head ; but these three are rich in 
understanding. The outline of the forehead and skull of 2, in 
Plate XVI., principally betokens understanding. The mouth of 
the same face, and that of 6, in Plate XVIL, have the most 
firmness ; 5, in Plate XVIL, the most subtlety. In the out- 
line of the mouth of 3, Plate XVI., is much expression of 
intelligence ; but less genius than in 2, of the same plate. 
4, of Plate XVI., is less expressive. 7, of Plate XVIL, com- 
bined with an attentive look, requires no comment. 


As experiments upon physiognomonical sensation, we shall 
conclude by adding a number of countenances. We shall give 
our opinions in brief, that we may not anticipate the judg- 
ment of the reader. 


Fig. 1. — Ardour and coolness combined, proving that this 
countenance is energetic, persevering, unconquerable. It is 
the aspect of a strong, projecting mind. The mouth is sta- 
bility itself. 

Fig. 2. — The infamous Knipperdolling — villainy and deceit 
in the mouth ; in the forehead and eye, courage. How much 
had virtue and man to expect from the power and determina- 
tion of such a countenance ? What acts of wisdom and he- 
roism ! At present all is inflexibility, coldness, and cruelty ; 
an eye without love, a mouth without pity. In the mouth (<z) 
drawn by the side of this head, is the reverse of arrogance 
and obstinacy. It is contempt without ability. 

Fig. 3. — Stortzenbecher — the excess of rude, inexorable, 
wanton cruelty. — The whole is no longer capable of affection, 
friendship, or fidelity. 

Fig. 4, 5. — Honour — faith — beneficence. — Though cer- 
tainly not handsome, both these countenances speak open sen- 
sibility. Whoever would deny to such a countenance his con- 



fidence and esteem, is surely little deserving of confidence and 
esteem himself. 

Fig. 6. — An imperfect portrait of a musical person.— The 
forehead and eyebrows less profound in thought than quick of 
conception. — Little produced, much imagined.* The inten- 
sive is particularly expressed in the eye, eyebones and eye- 
brows. — The mouth is the peculiar seat of the tender, the soft, 
the breathing, f the amorous, of exquisite musical taste. 

Fig. 7. — How much soever this countenance may be in- 
jured by an ill-drawn eye, the arching of the forehead is still 
more manly than effeminate. — The nose I consider as a deter- 
minate token of calm fortitude, and discreet, benevolent, 
fidelity. The whole is good and noble. 

Fig. 8.— The eye and lips cautious, circumspect, and wise. 
Much science and memory in the forehead; genius rather 
discovering than producing. This mouth must speak excel- 
lently, profoundly. 

Fig. 9. — This cold vacuity of look — this rigid insensibility 
of the mouth, probably are given by the painter. — But the 
forehead, at least in its descent ; and the nose, the nostril 
excepted, are decisive tokens of an acute, capacious, mind. 
■ The under part of the ear accords with the forehead and nose, 
but not the upper. In the disfigured mouth are bitterness, 
contempt, vexation. 

Fig. 10. — A man of mind, but unpolished, without reflec- 
tion. I may pronounce this character rude, peculiar, with the 
habits of an artist. It is an acquired countenance ; the rude- 
ness of nature is very dissimilar to this. 

Fig. 11. — A bad likeness of the author of these fragments, 
yet not to be absolutely mistaken. The whole aspect, espe- 
cially the mouth, speaks inoffensive tranquillity, and benevo- 
lence, bordering on weakness. — More understanding and less 
sensibility in the nose than the author supposes himself to 
possess. — Some talents for observation in the eye and eye- 

Fig. 12. — Stability, intelligence, good sense, in the fore- 

* Wenig extension viel intension 
f Aufschliirfenrle — Sipping. 



head, eyes, eyebrows, and nose. The end of the nose doe3 
not agree with the other parts. The back part of the eye 
is too long, and, therefore, weaker than the fore part. The 
mouth has something of wit ; but, in other respects, is bad, 
and feeble. 


These are not Voltaire, they are but caricatures — essays of 
an artist whose intention was to express the general cha- 
racter, not accurately to define the features ; for so feeble a 
forehead, as is generally found in these twenty sketches, Vol- 
taire, the writer of nations, the ornament of the age, could 
not have. The character of the eye is similar in most of 
them — ardent, piercing, but without sublimity or grace. 
2, 3, 7, of Plate XIX., are most expressive of invention, 
power, and genius. — 6, and 8, mark the man of thought.— 
1, 2, and 3, of Plate XX., least betoken keen sensibility. The 
lips all denote satire, wit, and resistless ridicule. — The nose of 
8, Plate XX., has the most of truth and mind. 10, Plate XX., 
precision is wanting to the outline of the eye, power to the 
eyebrows, the sting, the scourge, of satire to the forehead. The 
under part of the profile, on the contrary, speaks of a flow of 
wit, acute, exuberant, exalted, ironical, never deficient in reply. 


Fig. 1. — Which only promises much in the eye-brows. — A 
man who will meet his man. — Rather firm than acute ; more 
power than taste ; more of the great than the beautiful. The 
mouth is more mild and benevolent than the nose, and the 
whole countenance besides, should seem to promise. 

Fig. 2. — This profile of the same person discovers still more 
passion, than the full face does resolution and strength of 
mind ; the nostril is bad, small, childish ; the nose will suffer 
no insult ; the eye here has nothing of the power of the other 
features : the wrinkles by which it is surrounded greatly lower 
the expression of the whole. 

Fig. 3. — The portrait of a miniature painter, remarkable 
for his highly-finished pictures. Delicacy and elegance, em- 


ployed in minute things, is perspicuous in the whole visage, 
particularly in the nose. The position of the forehead speaks 
more understanding than the outline itself. The under part 
of the mouth is weak, and may signify either benevolence or 
melancholy. Precision cannot be mistaken in the eye. 

Fig. 4. — A thoughtful, inquiring head, without great sen- 
sibility. Discretion rather than understanding. (Discretion 
employs itself on things, actions, projects and their progress ; 
understanding in the minute distinction between ideas, their 
exact boundaries, and characteristics.) The outline of the 
forehead, as far as it is visible, does not discover this calm, 
exact distinction, and determination of ideas. The breadth 
of the nose is also significant of consideration and discretion ; 
and its prominent*outline of activity and lively passion. 

Fig. 5. — A countenance of mature consideration. A man 
who hears, speaks little, but his words are decisive. His cha- 
racter is firm, but not violent. — Faithful rather than fond — a 
mind more accurate and comprehensive than penetrating and 
inventive — a countenance, not beautiful, but respectable to 
respectable men. — Without effeminacy, without impetuosity — 
thinks before he advises — will not easily be turned aside from 
his purpose. The eyebrows, and the very bad ear, especially, 
are highly contradictory to the precision and energy of the 
whole outline, particularly of the nose and mouth. 

Fig. 6. — There is something difficult to define in this profile, 
which betokens refined sensibility. It has no peculiar strength 
of mind, still less of body; will not soon oppress, may soon be 
oppressed. Peace of mind, circumspection which may dege- 
nerate into anxiety, gentle insinuating persuasion rather than 
bold eloquence ; worth, rich in discretion, and active benevo- 
lence, appear to be visible in this countenance, which is far 
inferior to the original. 

Fig. 7. — In this imperfect copy are mildness, premeditation, 
peace, scrutinizing thought. To analyze with ease, calmly to 
enjoy, rationally to discourse when no natural impediment in- 
tervenes, I conceive to be the principal characteristics of this 
countenance, which is far inferior to the original. 

Fig. 8. — A man whose character is nearly similar, except 


that he has a more antiquated air ; but not with less candour 
or intelligence, though more timidity. The nose is decisively 
significant of acute critical inquiry. 

Fig. 9, 10. — Two profiles of foolish men, in which that of 
9, has the distinguishing marks of weakness in the lower part 
of the profile, and 10, in the upper part, and in the angular 
wrinkles of the sharp-closed mouth. 

Fig. 11. — A portrait which, by its noble and beautiful out- 
line, fixes the attention. Much power of mind in the form ; 
but, in its present appearance, that power greatly benumbed. 
I think I read unfortunate love, and see the person who has 
felt its power, which still is nourished by the sweet memory of 
the beloved object. 

Fig. 12. — Is the absolute reverse of 11. Incapable of any 
high degree of improvement. Such a forehead and such a 
nose combined ever denote unconquerable debility and inanity. 
Were this perpendicular forehead thrown but a hairs breadth 
more back, I durst not risk a judgment so decisive against the 


Fig. 1. — Evidently no strength of mind. Commonness, not 
stupidity, in the outline of the nose ; want of strength in the 
parts about the eye. The lower muscles of the nose, and the 
wrinkles of such a mouth, are almost decisive marks of 

Fig. 2. — Nothing, in this countenance, bespeaks strength of 
mind, yet is it difficult to determine which are the signs of 
weakness. The mouth and aspect, no one will consider as 
thoughtful, inquiring, or powerful ; and still less the nose and 

Fig. 3. — Prompt ; quick to undertake and to complete ; 
hating procrastination and irresolution ; loving industry and 
order ; enterprizing ; not easily deceived ; soon excited to 
great undertakings ; quick to read ; difficult to be read. Such 
is this countenance, or I am much deceived. 

Fig. 4. — Benevolent serenity, a playful fancy, promptitude 
to observe the ridiculous. — The form of the forehead should be 


more sunken where it joins the nose. This deficiency lessens 
the expression of understanding. The eye and nose, espe- 
cially, betoken a fine understanding, sincerity, candour, and 

Fig. 5. — Something ill-drawn, gross, and distorted. ' The 
eager inquirer is still visible in the outline, and wrinkles of the 
forehead; in the eyebrows and nose, especially in the lower 
part of the latter ; and, more still, in the middle line of the 
mouth, so tranquilly closed, and in the angle formed by the 
under part of the nose and the upper lip. 

Fig. 6. — Not the man of deep research, but quick of percep- 
tion ; grasps his object with promptness and facility ; every- 
where collects elegance and grace, and returns them to the 
world with added charms. Who but sees this in the forehead, 
eyebrow, and particularly in the poetical eye? — The lower 
part of this countenance is less that of the profound, cautious, 
inquiring philosopher, than of the man of taste. 


Fig. 7. — A countenance void of grace; formed, I might say, 
to terrify the very devil ; bony, yet lax ; violent, wild, yet with- 
out tension : such, particularly in better pictures, are the 
forehead, eye-brows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, neck, and hair. 
The eye and nose are decisive of a powerful and daring mind. 
The mouth denotes facility of speech, calm and copious elo- 

Fig. 8. — Although the back part of the pupil be too pointed, 
or ill drawn, yet there is much of mind in the eye ; true, accu- 
rate attention, analyzing reflection. The nose less marks the 
projector than the man of accurate investigation. Eloquence, 
and fine imagination, in the mouth. 

Fig. 9. — A mixture of effeminacy and fortitude. — Levity 
and perseverance — harmony — nobility of mind — simplicity — 
peace. The high smooth forehead speaks the powers of me- 
mory; — It delights in the clear, unperplexed, the sincere. — The 
eye has no pretensions. This nose of the youthful maiden, 


united with such a mouth and chin, banishes all suspicion that 
such a countenance can act falsely, or ignobly. 

Fig. 10. — A rude outline of our greatest poet. — The outline 
of the forehead, particularly of the eye-bones, gives the most 
perfect expression of a clear understanding, as does the eleva- 
tion above the eye, of elegance and originality. — This mouth 
shows less sweetness, precision, and taste, than appertain to 
the original. The whole bears an impression of tranquillity, 
and purity of heart! — The upper part of the countenance seems 
most the seat of reason, and the under of imagination — or, in 
other words, in the upper part we distinguish the man of 
thought and wisdom, more than the poet ; and, in the under, 
the poet more than the man of thought and wisdom. 

Fig. 11. — Expressive, vigorous, poetical genius, without its 
sweetness and polished elegance. Less dramatic and epic than 
picturesque and bold — more pliability in the mouth than in the 
forehead and chin. — Taste in the outline of the nose ; strong 
passion in the chin. Strength, fidelity, in the whole. — Such 
outlines indicate powerful, penetrating, ardent eyes, a fine 
speaking glance. A calm analyzing train of ideas, slowly ac- 
quired, will not be sought by the physiognomist in the under 
part of the profile, nor tardy sluggishness in the upper. 

Fig. 12. — This profile, though imperfect, may easily be 
known. It must pass without comment, or rather the com- 
mentary is before the world — is in this book. Let that speak ; 
I am silent. 


May these two purposes be attained by the same means ? — 
Does not a knowledge of the heart destroy, or weaken philan- 
thropy ? — Does not our good opinion of any man diminish 
when he is perfectly known ? And, if so, how may philanthropy 
be increased by this knowledge ? 

What is here alleged is — truth — but it is partial truth. — 
And how fruitful a source of error is partial truth ! 


It is a certain truth that the majority of men are losers by 
being accurately known. — But it is no less true, that the ma- 
jority of men gain as much on one side as they lose on the other 
by being thus accurately known. 

I do not here speak of those who can only gain by being ac- 
curately known ; 

I speak of those who would lose much were the knowledge of 
the heart to become more accurate, and more general. 

Who is so wise as never to act foolishly ? Where is the 
virtue wholly unpolluted by vice ; with thoughts, at all mo- 
ments, simple, direct, and pure? I dare undertake to maintain 
that all men, with some very rare exceptions, lose by being 

But I will also prove, by the most irrefragable arguments, 
that all men gain by being known ; consequently — that a know- 
ledge of the heart is not detrimental to the love of mankind. 

" But does it promote the love of mankind V Yes. 

A knowledge of the heart teaches us alike what man is not 
and cannot be ; why he is not, cannot be ; and what he is, or 
can be. 

Astonishment, that abmidant fountain of censoriousness, 
diminishes in proportion as this knowledge increases. 

When you would inquire why any man thinks and acts thus, 
could you but suppose yourself in his station, that is, could 
you assume his form, body, countenance, senses, constitution, 
and feelings ; how intelligible, how natural, then, would all his 
actions appear ! And would not censoriousness, so active, at 
present, immediately disappear, when an accurate knowledge 
of man should be obtained ! Would not compassion succeed 
to condemnation, and fraternal lenity to hatred I 

But not in this alone (I here but slightly glance at my sub- 
ject) would man be benefited by the promotion of physiogno- 
monical knowledge : he gains another advantage. 

Physiognomy discovers actual and possible perfections, 
which, without its aid, must ever have remained hidden. The 
more man is studied, the more power and positive goodness 
will he be discovered to possess. As the experienced eye of 
the painter perceives a thousand small shades an 1 colours 


which are unremarked by common spectators, so the physiog- 
nomist views a multitude of actual or possible perfections 
which escape the general eye of the despiser, the slanderer, or 
even the more benevolent judge of mankind. 

I speak from experience. The good which I, as a physiog- 
nomist, have observed in people round me, has more than 
compensated that mass of evil which, though I appeared blind, 
I could not avoid seeing. The more I have studied man, the 
more have I been convinced of the general influence of his 
faculties, the more have remarked that the origin of all evil is 
good, that those very powers which made him evil, those abili- 
ties, forces, irritability, elasticity, were all, in themselves, 
actual, positive, good. The absence of these, it is true, would 
have occasioned the absence of an infinity of evil ; but so would 
they, likewise, of an infinity of good. The essence of good 
has given birth to much evil ; but it contains in itself the pos- 
sibility of a still infinite increase of good. 

The least failing of an individual incites a general outcry, 
and his character is at once darkened, trampled on, and de- 
stroyed. — The physiognomist views the man whom the whole 
world condemns, and — praises, — What ? Vice ? — No — Does 
he excuse the vicious ? — No — He whispers, or loudly affirms, 
" Treat this man after such a manner, and you will be asto- 
nished at what he is able, what he may be made willing, to 
perform. He is not so wicked as he appears ; his countenance 
is better than his actions. His actions, it is true, are legible 
in his countenance ; but not more legible than his great powers, 
his sensibility, the pliability of that heart which has had an 
improper bent. Give but these powers, which have rendered 
him vicious, another direction, and other objects, and he will 
perform miracles of virtue." — Yes, the physiognomist will 
pardon where the most benevolent philanthropist must con- 
demn. For myself, since I have become a physiognomist, I 
have gained knowledge, so much more accurate, of so many 
excellent men, and have had such frequent occasion to rejoice 
my heart in the discoveries I have made concerning such men, 
that this, as I may say, has reconciled me to the whole human 
race. What I here mention as having happened to myself, 


each physiognomist, being himself a man, must have, undoubt- 
edly, felt. 

Again, as pity is awakened, cherished, and heightened, at 
the sight of natural evil, so is the noblest and wisest compas- 
sion roused by an acute perception and sensibility of human 
degeneracy : and from whom is such compassion more to be 
expected than from a true physiognomist ? I repeat, the 
noblest compassion — for it employs itself on the immediate, 
the precise, the present, man ; and his secret, his profound 
misery, which is not without him, but within — the wisest — ■ 
for, while it knows the evil is internal, it thinks not of pal- 
liatives, but of internal efficient means, of laying the axe to 
the root, of means with the proper application and certainty 
of which he is acquainted. 

True souls of benevolence, you often shall weep tears of 
blood, to find men are so bad ; but, often, also, shall you weep 
tears of joy, to find them better than the all-powerful , all- 
poisonous, tongue of slander would have made you believe. 


The title of this fragment is expressive of the contents, or 
rather of the very soul, of the whole work ; therefore, what I 
may here say, in a separate section, may be accounted as no- 
thing ; yet how vast a subject of meditation may it afford to 
man ! 

Each creature is indispensable in the immensity of the crea- 
tions of God ; but each creature does not know it is thus indis- 
pensable. Man, alone, of all earth's creatures, rejoices in his 

No man can render any other man dispensable. The place 
of no man can be supplied by another. 

This belief of the indispensability and individuality of all 
men, and in our own metaphysical indispensability and indi- 
viduality, is, again one of the unacknowledged, the noble fruits 
of physiognomy ; a fruit pregnant with seed most precious, 


whence shall spring lenity and love. Oh ! may posterity be- 
hold them flourish; may future ages repose under their shade! 
The worst, the most deformed, the most corrupt of men, is 
still indispensable in this world of God, and is more or less 
capable of knowing his own individuality, and unsuppliable in- 
dispensability. The wickedest, the most deformed of men, is 
still more noble than the most beauteous, most perfect animal. 
— Contemplate, oh man ! what thy nature is, not what it might 
be, not what is wanting. Humanity, amid all its distortions, 
will ever remain wondrous humanity ! 

Incessantly might I repeat doctrines like this ! — Art thou 
better, more beauteous, nobler, than many others of thy fellow- 
creatures ? — If so, rejoice, and ascribe it not to thyself, but to 
Him who, from the same clay, formed one vessel for honour, 
another for dishonour ; to Him who, without thy advice, with- 
out thy prayer, without any desert of thine, caused thee to be 
what thou art. 

Yea, to Him !— " For what hast thou, oh man, that thou 
didst not receive ? Now if thou didst receive, why dost thou 
glory as if thou hadst not received f ' — " Can the eye say to 
the hand, I have no need of thee ?' — "He that oppresseth the 
poor reproacheth his Maker." — " God hath made of one blood 
all nations of men. 1 ' 

Who more deeply, more internally, feels all these divine 
truths than the physiognomist ?— The true physiognomist, 
who is not merely a man of literature, a reader, a reviewer, an 
author, but — a man. 

Yes, I own, the most humane physiognomist, he who so 
eagerly searches for whatever is good, beautiful, and noble in 
nature, who delights in the Ideal, who duly exercises, nou- 
rishes, refines his taste, with humanity more improved, more 
perfect, more holy, even he is in frequent danger, at least, is 
frequently tempted to turn from the common herd of depraved 
men ; from the deformed, the foolish, the apes, the hypocrites, 
the vulgar of mankind; in danger of forgetting that these mis- 
shapen forms, these apes, these hypocrites, also, are men; 
and that notwithstanding all his imagined, or his real excel- 
lence, all his noble feelings, the purity of his views (and who 


has cause to boast of these ?), all the firmness, the soundness, 
of his reason, the feelings of his heart, the powers with which 
he is endowed, although he may appear to have approached the 
sublime ideal of Grecian art, still he is, very probably, from 
his own moral defects, in the eyes of superior beings, in the 
eyes of his much more righteous brother, as distorted as the 
most ridiculous, most depraved, moral, or physical monster ap- 
pears to be in his eyes. 

Liable as we are to forget this, reminding is necessary, both 
to the writer and the reader of this work. — Forget not that 
even the wisest of men are men. Forget not how much posi- 
tive good may be found, even in the worst ; and that they are 
as necessary, as good in their place as thou art. Are they 
not equally indispensable, equally unsuppliable ? They possess 
not, either in mind or body, the smallest thing exactly as 
thou dost. Each is wholly, and in every part, as individual 
as thou art. 

Consider each as if he were single in the universe : then wilt 
thou discover powers and excellencies in him which, ab- 
stractedly of comparison, deserve all attention and admiration. 

Compare him afterwards with others ; his similarity, his dis- 
similarity, to so many of his fellow-creatures. How must this 
incite thy amazement ! How wilt thou value the individuality, 
the indispensability of his being ! How wilt thou wonder at 
the harmony of his parts, each contributing to form one whole: 
at their relation, the relation of his millionfold individuality, to 
such multitudes of other individuals ! Yes ! We wonder and 
adore the so simple, yet so infinitely varied, expression of 
almighty power inconceivable, so especially, and so gloriously, 
revealed in the nature of man. 

No man ceases to be a man, how low soever he may sink 
beneath the dignity of human nature. Not being beast he 
still is capable of amendment, of approaching perfection. The 
worst of faces still is a human face. Humanity ever continues 
the honour and ornament of man. 

It is as impossible for a brute animal to become man, although 
he may in many actions approach, or almost surpass him, as 
for man to become a brute, although many men indulge them- 


selves in actions which we cannot view in brutes without ab- 

But the very capacity of voluntarily debasing himself in ap- 
pearance, even below brutality, is the honour and privilege of 
man. This very capacity of imitating all things by an act of 
his will, and the power of his understanding. This very capa- 
city man only has, beasts have not. — The countenances of 
beasts are not susceptible of any remarkable deterioration, nor 
are they capable of any remarkable amelioration, or beautify- 
ing. The worst of the countenances of men may be still more 
debased, but they may, also, to a certain degree, be improved 
and ennobled. 

The degree of perfection, or degradation, of which man is 
capable, cannot be described. 

For this reason, the worst countenance lias a well-founded 
claim to the notice, esteem, and hope of all good men. 

Again ; in every human countenance, however debased, 
humanity still is visible ; that is, the image of the Deity. 

I have seen the worst of men, in their worst of moments, 
yet could not all their vice, blasphemy, and oppression of guilt, 
extinguish the light of good that shone in their countenances ; 
the spirit of humanity, the ineffaceable traits of internal, 
eternal, perfectibility. — The sinner we would exterminate, the 
man we must embrace. 

Oh physiognomy ! What a pledge art thou of the everlast- 
ing clemency of God towards man ! 

Therefore, inquirer into nature, inquire what actually is. 

Therefore, man, be man, in all thy researches ; form not to 
thyself ideal beings, for thy standard of comparison. 

Wherever power is, there is subject of admiration ; and 
human, or, if so you would rather, divine power, is in all men. 
Man is a part of the family of men : thou art man, and every 
other man is a branch of the same tree, a member of the same 
body,— is, what thou art, and more deserving regard than were 
he perfectly similar, had exactly the same goodness, the same 
degree of worth thou hast ; for he would then no longer be the 
single, indispensable, unsuppliable individual which he now 
is — Oh man ! Rejoice with whatever rejoices in its existence, 
and contemn no being whom God doth not contemn. 






You permit me, honoured Count, to communicate my 
thoughts to you, on the study of physiognomy. It appears 
to me that all treatises of this kind have neither precision, 
perspicuity, nor force sufficient when they are only general, 
and are not addressed to some one, of whom it is previously 
known that he is able to prove, and will be at the labour of 
proving, each proposition ; that he will strengthen proof by 
experiment, and that he will remark each neglect, obscurity, 
and ambiguity. All I have before written on physiognomy is 
not of so much importance as what I now intend to write, on 
the study of that science, and the method to be employed in 
physiognomonical observation. Should the precepts I give be 
successful, so will, also, my whole work. Yet do I feel an 
infinite difficulty in explaining myself, so clearly, accurately, 
and intelligibly, as is requisite for the promotion of the study 
of true physiognomy. I know that when I shall have, with all 
possible attention, written some sheets, and imagine I have 
said all I can say, there will still many imperfections remain ; 
and that, in despite of my utmost care to be accurate, still, to 
many, I shall appear inaccurate. This science cannot per- 
fectly be taught by book, and no reasonable person will expect 
perfection in these fragments. What I am able to do shall be 
done. I pretend not to give rules, to you, sir, who are your- 
self an accurate observer, but to submit rules to your examina- 
tion. I submit them to you, because you possess physiog- 
nomonical sensation, the art of drawing, and have sufficient 
genius to facilitate the study of physiognomy by the various 
aids of which you are possessed. 


Nothing can more effectually promote the study of physiog- 
nomy than an answer to the question, how ought physiognomy 
to be studied? Mistakes in physiognomy are, probably, the 
worst of mistakes ; since they contribute to the unhappiness 
of two persons, the observer and the observed. How nume- 
rous, frequently, are the ill effects of a single false decision ! 
Still more so of a false rule, which is not founded on frequent 
experiment ; and worse than either is false information, on 
which false rules are founded. I therefore delayed, as long as 
possible, writing on the manner in which the physiognomist 
ought to form himself. Separate remarks ought not to be pub- 
lished without the most scrupulous attention to their truth ; 
much less instructions how remarks are to be made. Reason- 
ing, perhajis, cannot find a more capacious field of exercise 
than in the pursuit of this study. We scarcely can be suffi- 
ciently on our guard against error, in proceeding and in judg- 
ing, since error comes with such ease and rapidity, and is so 
fatal in its consequences. Of this the physiognomist never 
can be too often warned. Never can he be too often admonished 
to vary and multiply his observations. Never can the man of 
weak intellects be too often cautioned to avoid the study of 
physiognomy. The self-nominated physiognomist, without feel- 
ing, without wisdom, reason, or knowledge ; without patience 
to observe and to compare ; without the love of truth or of 
man; the witling, the censurer, the rash critic, the shallow 
slanderer, oh, how mischievous, how dangerous is he in human 
society ! — I repeat, the physiognomist without truth and rea- 
son ; I do not recall my words, but utter them with added 
force. Physiognomonical sensation is of all things the most 
indispensable. It is the first, most essential, of requisites ; 
the eye of nature, without which all rules and instructions are 
as useless to man as spectacles are to the blind. Alas ! without 
wisdom, without rational experiment, comparison, discernment, 
reason, rules, practice, and the art of drawing, how will the 
finest physiognomonical genius, if not often err himself, cause 
others to err ! His sensations will, at least, be perplexed and 
impossible to communicate. For my own part, before I would 
recommend, or, rather, before I would permit the study of 


physiognomy, I must be convinced the student possesses this 
physiognomonical sensation, understanding, wisdom, penetra- 
tion, the knowledge and the practice of drawing. Physiog- 
nomonical sensation, in order to feel and read natures and 
characteristics ; understanding, wisdom, and penetration, to 
impart his observations, and express them by general, ab- 
stract, signs; and the art of drawing that he may portray 
character to the eye. Wanting these, the study of physiog- 
nomy cannot be brought to perfection. It is not without 
reason that I greatly fear lest incapable men should lightly 
undertake the most difficult of all studies, as far as it is de- 
fined and scientific, to the utter degradation of physiognomy ; 
but I will bear none of the blame. I will rather fatigue by 
too repeatedly warning. All men have a certain degree of 
physiognomonical sensation : this I know, and loudly, deter- 
minedly, proclaim. But every one has not sufficient sensation, 
sufficient reason, sufficient capacity, accurately to define, and 
impart his observations. All are not qualified for the study of 

I shall not repeat what has already been said, concerning 
the necessary endowments of the physiognomist, or the diffi- 
culties he has to encounter. I shall only proceed to lay before 
him some remarks, which, although, as I have already said, I 
am conscious they are very imperfect, I am also convinced, 
by experience, are well adapted to assist the physiognomist 
in his studies. 

To the scholar, who asks my advice, I will say, if you feel 
an impulse to this study, if different countenances affect you 
differently, if one is powerful and prompt to attract, another as 
powerful, as prompt to repel ; if you are desirous of reading the 
heart ; if you feel a resistless anxiety to obtain precision and 
certainty in whatever you undertake, then study physiognomy. 

What is to be understood by studying physiognomy ? 

It signifies to exercise the feelings, quicken sensibility, ac- 
quire the power of imparting, of delineating, characterizing, 
and depicting what we feel and observe. 

It signifies to search, limit, and class the visible signs of 
invisible powers. 


It signifies, by the lineaments and changes of the human 
countenance, to discover their causes and effeets. 

It signifies to learn, and to decide with precision, what cha- 
racter of mind certain forms and countenances are, or are not, 
capable of receiving. 

It signifies to devise general, assignable, communicable signs 
of the powers of mind ; or, in general, the internal faculties of 
man, and to apply them with certainty, and facility, to all 

If this thou art unwilling to learn, then would I say, though 
thou wert my friend, study not physiognomy. To learn less 
than this, deserves not the appellation of study. 

First, most accurately inquire what all human bodies and 
countenances have in common, and wherein they generally 
differ from all other animal, organized bodies. The more cer- 
tainly and perfectly these differences are understood, the more 
highly will the student think of human nature ; he will examine 
man with a deeper reverence, and discern his character more 

Next, carefully study the parts, their connexion, combina- 
tion, and proportion. Read the Encyclopedic, Durer, or any 
other author ; but confide not in books, examine, measure thy 
own proportions : first alone, afterwards in company with a 
penetrating, unprejudiced friend ; then let him, or some other, 
measure thee, without interference. 

Attend to two things in measuring the proportion of the 
parts, which, in my opinion, have not hitherto been accurately 
distinguished by any person who has considered proportion ; 
and the want of which distinction has occasioned so many 
distortions in drawing, and so many erroneous judgments 
concerning the very regular works of God, in all their" ap- 
parent exceptions ; that is, attend to the difference between 
right-lined and curve-lined proportion, for this is the very key 
to physiognomy. If the parts of the countenance, if the limbs 
are proportionate, according to right-lined, perpendicular ad- 
measurement, the man is then beautiful, well-formed, intelli- 
gent, strong, firm, noble, in a superior degree. All this he 
also may be, although his parts and members, according to 


appearances, vary from this proportion. For this proportion 
may, notwithstanding, be found according to curve lines, but 
it is to be remarked that rectilinear proportion is, in its na- 
ture, more advantageous and indestructible. 

Being once well acquainted with the parts of the body, their 
connexion, and proportion ; and so perfectly as to discover, at 
the first glance, in each lineament, whatever is disproportionate, 
defective, superfluous, whatever is distorted, or misplaced; and 
to explain these things to others ; having obtained certainty 
in the eye, and a perspicuity of exquisite discrimination, which 
is the great sensorium of physiognomy ; then, first, may the 
student venture attentively to observe individual character. 

He should begin with such countenances as are remarkable 
in form, and in character ; should examine men whose features 
are unambiguous, positive, obvious. 

Let him, for example, choose a man of extraordinary powers 
of mind, an idiot, a person of exquisite sensibility, or a cold, 
hard, insensible, man of iron. 

Let him study the remarkable character he selects, as if he 
had that alone to study. First generally, afterwards in all its 
parts ; describe the whole form, and each particular feature, 
in words, as if to a painter, who was to draw a picture of the 
person. After this description, let the person sit, if it be prac- 
ticable, to the student, as he would to the painter. Begin 
with his stature. Then give the proportions ; first the appa- 
rent, as measured according to perpendicular and horizontal 
lines ; proceed afterwards to the forehead, nose, mouth, chin, 
and especially to the figure, colour, position, size, and depth 
of the eyes. 

Having finished the description, examine it word by word, 
line by line, with attention, while the person is present. Care- 
fully inquire if nothing be wanting, nothing superfluous ; if all 
is truth, all accurately expressed. Draw the figure of the per- 
son, when he is absent, according to this description. If the 
student cannot produce a general resemblance of character, he 
has not well described, nor well observed ; has not observed as 
a student in physiognomy ought to observe. That this kind 
of exercise may become more perfect, a habit must be acquired 


of studying any countenance, so as to seize and deeply impress 
its most prominent features on the memory, in a few moments. 
My method is first to examine the form, whether it be round, 
oval, square, or angular, and under what general figure it may 
be most properly classed. 

Having observed the full face, I next examine the profile, 
perhaps by dividing it into two parts. I then define its per- 
pendicular length, according to the three customary divisions, 
and remark its perpendicular variations : then the relative 
position of these three parts, the forehead, the nose, the chin. 
This I can the easier do, if I imagine a right line, passing from 
the extreme point of the upper lip, immediately under the nose, 
to the point of the deepest part of the cavity under the fore- 
head, by which this relative position, in all countenances, 
naturally divides itself into three principal sections : the per- 
pendicular, the line projecting at the lower point, or the line 
projecting at the upper point. Without having such simple 
and determinate rules, it will never be possible for the imagi- 
nation to retain the true form of the head, physiognomonically 
accurate. 1 must here also remark to young painters, that, un- 
less they precisely notice these two fixed points, it will scarcely 
be possible for them ever to delineate a countenance physiogno- 
monically. — Having impressed these two points in my memory, 
I more minutely consider, first, the forehead ; afterwards the 
eyebrows, the space between the eyes, the descent to the nose, 
the nose itself; then the indescribably characteristic space 
between the tip of the nose and where it joins the lip, which 
can only be of three kinds. It must form a right, an obtuse, 
or an acute angle. I next remark whether the upper or 
under side of this angle be the longest : afterwards I examine 
the mouth, which, likewise, in the profile, can only have three 
principal forms. The upper lip is either over the under, even 
to it, or projecting beyond it. In like manner must the chin 
be measured and classed. The line descending to it will either 
be perpendicular, projecting, or retreating ; and the line formed 
by the under part of the chin will either be horizontal, ascend- 
ing, or descending. I, also, particularly remark the form of 
the jaw-bone ; how far it is, or is not, left visible by the mus- 


cular parts, which often is most decisively significant. I esti- 
mate the eye, first, by its distance from the root of the nose ; 
next, according to its size, colour, the curve of the upper and 
lower parts of the eyelid ; by which means, in a short time, I 
can, as I may say, learn the countenance by rote ; and counte- 
nances may be studied by rote, in the same manner as poems, 
the principal parts of which we first examine, then impress 
successive passages on the memory, and, looking in the book, 
examine how far we are perfect, still recurring to the text 
whenever we find ourselves defective. Thus I study the coun- 
tenance. Without this exercise of the memory, the spirit of 
observation will ever remain dull, nor ever attain that high 
excellence which is indispensable in the study of physiognomy. 
Some characteristic countenance being thus thoroughly 
studied; then, for some few days, observe all countenances 
that happen to be met ; and let all those pass that have not 
some remarkable conformity of features to the one already 
studied. That such conformity may be the more easily per- 
ceived, let observation, at first, be confined to the forehead. 
— As is the resemblance of the forehead, so will be the re- 
semblance of the rest of the features. — The grand secret of 
physiognomonical observation consists in simplifying, develop- 
ing, producing, the principal, the characteristic features. — If, 
for example, a resembling forehead be found; and, conse- 
quently, according to our axiom, a resembling countenance ; 
the next effort must be to define the varieties, and what is 
wanting to form a perfect resemblance, and fix the character 
of the person newly observed in the memory, especially its 
most conspicuous parts. If decisive resemblances are found 
in both, I say decisive, this is a certain proof that the ex- 
traordinary part of the physiognomonical character is dis- 
covered, so far as that extraordinary part of character is not 
contradicted by other men, who have these marks, and have not 
this character. Should such exceptions be found (but with 
difficulty will they be found), it may then be concluded that 
these prominent physiognomonical marks, which were supposed 
decisive of character, are, in reality, not the deciding marks of 
character. That error may be the less probable, watch these 


decisive parts, when that which is extraordinary in the cha- 
racter is active, is put in motion. Attentively remark the 
sharpness of the lines which is then produced by the motion 
of the muscles, and compare these lines in the two counte- 
nances. If these resemble, no longer doubt of the resemblance 
of the minds. Should any uncommon trait be found in an 
uncommon man, and the like trait be found in another equally 
uncommon man, and in no other person whatever, then will 
this trait be the grand mark of character, and the key to 
innumerable similar shades. 

For example, Haller, certainly, in many respects, was an 
extraordinary man. Among other remarkable features, which 
he had in common with other men of understanding, I ob- 
served a trait, a line, a muscle, below the eye, which I never 
saw, after this form, in any other man. I do not yet know 
what it denotes, but I pay attention to all countenances, and 
the first which I shall meet, with this trait, I shall carefully 
examine, shall turn the discourse on those subjects in which 
Haller excelled, or on such as will easily make it visible whether 
a person with such a trait possesses any portion of the spirit of 
Haller. From a multitude of former observations, I am con- 
vinced, that can I find two more countenances with this trait, 
another great letter in the alphabet of physiognomy is disco- 
vered. Haller may have had weaknesses, of which this trait 
may be a token ; it, therefore, may be found in some very 
common men, who, without Haller's numerous excellencies, 
may, in common with him, possess only this defect. The con- 
trary, however, is probably the fact ; but, without encouraging 
prejudices for either opinion, I shall patiently wait till I can 
discover the trait. 

Another most important rule is to study the most extra- 
ordinary characters, examine the excess, the extreme of cha- 
racter, and the extremes of the opposite characters ; at one 
time the most decisive traits of benevolent good, and at ano- 
ther of destructive evil ; now the greatest of poets, next the 
dullest of prose writers ; the idiot born, and the man of genius. 

With this view visit hospitals for idiots. Begin with draw- 
ing the grand outline of the most remarkable traits of the most 


stupid. Those first which all have in common ; and next such 
as are individually peculiar. Having drawn what is particular, 
what is general will soon appear. From what is general, recur 
again to what is individual ; describe and draw draw, and de- 
scribe. Study each part ; cover the other parts with the hand ; 
consider the connexion, the relation. Inquire where the de- 
cisive is to be found. Is it in this feature, or in this \ Select 
certain traits, and add them to the other features, that the 
combination and effect of the whole may be found. 

Seek, afterwards, for the company of men of wisdom and 
profound thought, and proceed as before. 

If time and opportunity are wanting to draw the whole coun- ' 
tenance, and study it perfectly, particular attention is neces- 
sary to be paid to two lines. Having these, the character of 
the countenance is obtained, that is to say, the key to the cha- 
racter. — These lines are that from before the mouth, when the 
lips are closed, or opened, and that described by the eyelid, 
over the pupil. To understand these is equal to what is called 
understanding the countenance. I boldly maintain, by these 
two lineaments, it is possible, it is easy, to decipher the mind, 
the heart of every man. — Not by ME, but by him who has 
more time and talents for observation. All countenances, 
whose characters I think I know, I can understand by the aid 
of these two lines. The greatest painters after nature have 
neglected them, although the very soul of resemblance de- 
pends on a strict adherence to these lineaments. If they ever 
introduce a manner, it is into these, and from these it is easy 
to discover whether the master be, or be not, a sound physiog- 
nomist. But since, in practice, these two lines are so finely 
arched, so moveable, that an exceedingly experienced eye is re- 
quisite to define them with precision ; and since, besides these, 
the eyebrows in many persons are likewise highly expressive, I 
frequently call in the assistance of the profile, which it is easier 
to define in the parts about the eye than in those near the 
mouth. But, where that is not sufficient, I have recourse to 
the descent of the forehead to the nose, and that of the nose 
to the mouth. These two firm and almost unchangeable parts 
of the profile, I delineate in imagination, that I may after- 


wards be able to represent and preserve them in an actual 

Accurate examination, and repeated comparison, between 
the two moveable, and the two immoveable lines, will teach us, 
that they, as in general all the features of the countenance, 
have a most immediate relation to each other ; so that the 
one will immediately be denoted by the other ; and experience 
will teach us, in time, having the one given, to produce the 
other. In order to acquire this perfection, so indescribably 
important, it is necessary to draw nothing but the outlines of 
the upper eyelid and the mouth of the same person, and to 
draw them, continually, on the same paper ; each pair of such 
lines, separately, on one paper, that they may the more easily 
be placed side by side, compared, and classed. The two other 
lines may easily be obtained by the means of shades. A num- 
ber of these should also be drawn on separate cards, that they 
may be arranged. After which their exact proportions are to 
be determined. 

Yet I say not, noble Count, to the physiognomist, study, 
describe, draw, select, compare by repeated observation, these 
characteristic, illustrating traits, alone. — No. — Study all, 
neglect no part of the countenance. Each trait contains the 
whole character of man, as, in the smallest of the works of 
God, the character of Deity is contained. God can create 
nothing which is not divine. The truly wise man, as wise, 
utters not the smallest folly. His smallest actions have 
meaning. To sin against a part of the countenance, by de- 
spising it, is to sin against the whole. He who formed the 
eye to see, also planted the ear. He is never at variance 
with himself. How can I often enough, emphatically enough, 
awfully enough, declare God and nature are never at variance ! 
— As is the eye so is the ear ; as the forehead so each indi- 
vidual hair. Every minute part has the nature and character 
of the whole. Each speaks truth, the truth of the whole.* 

* Nulla enim corporis pars est, quamlibet minuta et exilis, quantumvis 
abjecta et ignobilis, quae non aliquod argumentum insitae naturae, et quo 
animus inclinet, exhibeat. — Lemnius 



To us, indeed, one speaks with a louder, another with a more 
gentle, voice ; but the language of all is the same. It is the 
harmony of innumerable voices proclaiming truth. — There are 
some moments in which the whispers of nature are more intel- 
ligible than her loudest, cries. Frequently the passage of an 
author which shall seem widest of meaning, explains something 
the most essential. A trifling, inferior trait in the counte- 
nance shall often be the key to the whole. The solemn testi- 
mony of St. Paul is here applicable. " There is nothing com- 
mon of itself, but to him only that esteemeth any thing to be 
common." Yes, " Heaven and earth shall sooner pass away 
than one jot, or one tittle, of the countenance, lose its signify- 
ing power."" 

Thou art unworthy, that is to say, incapable, to study the 
countenance of man, if thou excludest the smallest things as 
unworthy of remark. 

I add, however, the student may probably have a particu- 
lar capacity for the observation of this or that particular fea- 
ture, or membes. As various men are variously affected by 
different arts and sciences, so is it with the countenance. He, 
therefore, should carefully examine how far he has such pro- 
pensities, for the examination of one trait or member, more 
than another ; and such trait or member he should study first, 
and most, as if no other were to be studied, but that the 
whole character were contained in this particular trait. 

Whoever would study physiognomy should apply himself to 
the study of shades. He that despises them despises physiog- 
nomy. If he have no physiognomonical sensation for shades, 
he has none for the human countenance ; while he who pos- 
sesses this physiognomonical sensation, at the sight of shades, 
will read the countenance with as much facility as he would 
read an open book. 

Make the taking of shades a practice, and to write down 
what is known of the character of the original, in the most 
clear and precise terms. 

Having obtained a number of such accurate shades, the 
characters of the originals of which are well known, do not 


first arrange those which appear to have a similarity of intel- 
lectual or moral character. For, first, the most precise un- 
physiognomonical description, in words, is indeterminate ; and, 
secondly, which is the consequence of the first, there are in- 
numerable moral and intellectual excellencies and defects, to 
describe which we have but some general term, and which, 
internally, are widely different, therefore, are expressed in the 
countenance by traits as widely different as themselves. Thus 
two men of extraordinary genius may have countenances the 
most opposite. For this reason, we must not begin with 
classing their shades by words, which may characterize the 
originals. For example, we must not say this is a man of 
genius ; this is another man of genius : therefore we will com- 
pare the two, and see what their shades have in common. — It 
may happen that they have nothing in common, but that their 
shades are absolutely dissimilar. — The shades, therefore, should 
first be ranged according to their resemblance. — The resem- 
blance of the forehead. — " These foreheads are not alike — 
where then is the likeness of their minds to be discovered? 
This forehead retreats, is thus or thus arched, forms this kind 
of angle, and this is much the same. Let us examine whether 
their minds are equally similar. 1 '' To answer such questions, 
with all possible precision, the great shades should, first, be 
measured by a proper instrument, and their proportions ascer- 
tained between the height from the eyebrows to the crown of 
the head ; so should their diagonal lines. Thus will the per- 
severing student find what he is in search of, will find that the 
resemblance of outlines express resembling powers of mind ; 
that the same kind of forehead generally denotes the same 
mode of considering subjects, of observation, of sensation ; 
that, as each country has its latitude and corresponding tem- 
perature, so has each countenance, each forehead, their lati- 
tude, their corresponding temperature. 

The physiognomist might facilitate his observations, were 
he to mark the various shades of the forehead with various 
letters of the alphabet, so that each forehead might have 
its correspondent letter, or its general name appropriated to 



Particular attention should be paid to what are the kind 
of characters that are most, or least expressive, taken in 
shades, and observe whether the active characters do not ap- 
pear much more striking than the sensitive and passive. A 
habit should be obtained of drawing countenances with facility, 
after which the eye, mouth, and features, should be added, 
in the absence of the original ; and next the profile drawn 
from viewing the full face, and the full face from the profile. 

Sketches from fancy should be drawn, and lines and fea- 
tures sought for in them, that have some determinate sig- 

Let each of these traits be simplified as much as possible, 
and each be drawn in the most careful manner, on a separate 
paper, that they may be afterwards arranged and compared 
at pleasure. 

By this apparently trifling practice, the most difficult things 
will soon become easy. 

Let the principal view of the student be directed to every 
possible mode of simplifying and transposing of features. 

I hold the basis of the forehead to be the sum of all the 
innumerable outlines of the skull ; or the sum of all its radii 
from the crown of the head. 

I suspected a priori, and was afterwards convinced, from 
proof, that the whole capacity, and perfectibility, of a healthy 
man, is expressed in this principal line ; and a perfect physi- 
ognomonical eye, contemplating a multitude from a window, 
would, from this outline, read the character of each indi- 

Therefore, to acquire the habit of selecting this principal 
line, it will be necessary to draw the same forehead in front, and 
in profile, to take the shades, and afterwards measure them. 

It is a difficult, but not impossible undertaking, to delineate 
the whole principal outline of the skull, as it would appear 
seen in front, or in profile. The significant variations of these 
principal outlines may easily be observed, and treasured up by 
the student who shall visit a convent, and observe the shorn 
heads of the monks, when bowed down in prayer. 


Waking men seldom suffer themselves to be accurately ob- 
served. There are numerous opportunities of seeing them, 
but the opportunity in which they may be scrutinized, without 
offensive indiscretion, is rarely found. But, sleeping, how 
instructive are they to the physiognomist ! — Draw, deline- 
ate separate parts, features, outlines, preserve the position 
of the sleeper, particularly the disposition of the body, head, 
legs, and arms. They are indescribably significant, especially 
in children. Compare the form of the countenance and the 
position ; and wonderful harmony will be discovered. Each 
countenance has its peculiar position of body, and of arms. 

The dead, and impressions of the dead, taken in plaster, 
are not less worthy of observation. Their settled features are 
much more prominent than in the living, and the sleeping. 
What life makes fugitive, death arrests ; what was indefina- 
ble is defined. All is reduced to its proper level ; each trait 
is in its true proportion, unless excruciating disease, or acci- 
dent, have preceded death. 

There is nothing I would more strongly recommend to the 
physiognomist than the study of exact and unchangeable 
busts in plaster. How leisurely, how calmly, how accurately, 
may he examine such busts ! They may be turned and placed 
how he pleases. The shades of every kind may be taken and 
measured. They may be cut at pleasure, and each division 
accurately drawn ; the great outlines may all be determined, 
even to mathematical precision. In this manner the physiog- 
nomist fixes his attention on the firm, the unchangeable truth 
of physiognomy ; that truth and stability to which his obser- 
vations should all be unremittingly directed. 

Whoever compares the plaster busts of men of genius and 
idiots with each other, whoever dissects, draws, and measures 
them, part by part, will have faith in physiognomy, equal to 
the belief of his own existence ; and his knowledge of other 
men will, in time, equal the knowledge he has of himself. 

For a similar purpose, I advise the physiognomist to collect 



the skulls of known persons; to take the shades of these 
skulls, which should be placed all in one horizontal row, so that 
he may take the triangle that circumscribes each. I repeat, 
of persons known ; for, before he teaches, he must be taught. 
The known must be compared with the known; indubitable 
external character with indubitable internal ; and, having per- 
fectly discovered the proportions of these, then must he first 
search the proportions of the unknown, and the nearly similar. 
Whoever too hastily rejects this counsel will certainly be ex- 
posed to laughter, and become dispirited. It would be folly 
to suppose that all who delight in physiognomy should be ex- 
pected immediately to solve every problem that is presented ; 
nor would the folly of renouncing the study because this is 
impossible, be less. Man must have before he can give. I 
therefore advise the student to exercise himself, and give un- 
presuming judgments among his friends ; but not to answer 
the inquisitive, whose motives do not originate in the love of 
truth, but in idle curiosity. He who is vainly desirous of 
making a parade of his physiognomonical knowledge, who does 
not consider the science too sacred for such abuse, will never 
make any great progress in the discovery of truth. The truth 
should first be sought for self-information, self-conviction, and 
afterwards discovered to the penetrating friend. Truth ac- 
quired should also be preserved, and applied to the discovery 
of more truth ; which is evident as clay, certain as our exist- 
ence. Answer not idle inquiries, nor increase the difficulties 
to be encountered by too precipitate decisions. 

A collection of medals, in plaster, of ancient and modern 
heads, is an aid most necessary to the physiognomist ; as are all 
profiles, which are small, and well defined ; for they are easy 
to arrange, in every possible order. Though the flexible fea- 
tures in medals, are seldom exact, yet the larger parts are, for 
that reason, the more accurate ; and though they should be 
inaccurate, they are still important to the physiognomist, for 
the exercise of physiognomonical sensation, and the classing of 

Language never can be sufficiently studied. 


All error originates in the deficiencies of language, the want 
of peculiar characteristic signs. Truth must be acknowledged 
as truth, if it be expressed with sufficient precision, if it be 
sufficiently separated, simplified, and illustrated. Man must 
receive truth with irrefragable conviction, when it is presented 
to him unclouded, unmixed, unadulterated. — Study languages, 
therefore, especially the mother tongue, and the French, which 
is so rich in characteristic and physiognomonical terms. 
Wherever a word, peculiarly significant, in reading or con- 
versation occurs, it ought to be remembered, and inserted in 
the common-place book : such as epithets that express every 
gradation of love, of understanding, wit, and other qualities. 

A register, the most perfect that can be obtained, of all 
characteristic countenances, is a very necessary aid for the 
student, which he must compile from the writings of those who 
have known men best, and from his own observation. I have 
collected above four hundred epithets for countenances of 
various kinds, yet, by no means, have sufficient at present. 
The physiognomist should search for, or invent, a characte- 
ristic epithet for every countenance he considers ; but such 
epithets should not be too hastily applied. All the varieties of 
epithets that are significant, should be written down : but, 
before the outline of a countenance that is arranged under any 
such epithet be drawn, and accurately described, every care 
should be taken that one countenance is not confounded with 

Some of my general classing words are, love, mind, moral, 
immoral sensation, power, wit, understanding, taste, religion, 
imperfection, local-countenances, rank-countenances, office- 
countenances, mechanic-countenances. 

Specimen of epithets under the title wit. 

Wit, captious wit, witling, strong wit, dull witted,, quick 
witted, sweet witted, mischievous wit, acrimonious wit, vain 
witted, severe witted, dry witted, cold witted, rude, icy witted, 
vulgar wit, sea wit, thieves' wit, rapid wit, raillery, drollery, 
fanciful repartee, petulant, comic, burlesque, malignant, smiling, 
laughing, humorous, cynical wit ; refined wit, &c. &c. 


Having sought the character of the countenance in paint- 
ings or drawings, by himself or others, the student, then, 
should draw this countenance with the characteristic outline ; 
which may often be done by a few simple strokes, or even by 
dotting. My continual endeavour is to simplify. The three 
things to which, especially, attention should be paid, are, the 
general form of the countenance, the relation of its constituent 
parts, and their curved lines, or positions ; all which may easily 
be expressed by the most simple marks. 

If there be a difficulty in finding the actual, the positive 
character of the countenance, it should be sought by analogy ; 
the register of epithets should be examined, word by word, and 
such epithets as appear to have any relation to the countenance, 
written down. The amount of these may enable the student 
to discover the true epithet. If no epithet can be found ap- 
plicable to the countenance from this copious register, let not 
that countenance be forgotten in any of its positions, traits, or 
wrinkles, until it is deciphered. The more enigmatical the 
countenance is, the more will it serve, when explained, as a key 
for the explication of others. 

Study the best painters ; copy the best portraits, the best 
historical pieces. Among the portrait painters, I hold sacred 
Mignard, Largilliere, Rigaud, Kneller, Reynolds, and Van- 
dyke. I prefer Mignard's and Rigaud 's portraits to Vandyck's, 
who is often deficient in industry and illusion ; since he rather 
considered the whole, and the spirit of the countenance, than 
its minute parts. I honour Vandyke perhaps as highly as any 
man ; but should some of his pictures which I have not seen 
be more laboriously and minutely finished, still it is generally 
true that for the physiognomist and his studies, his heads (not 
including the forms, in which he was so fortunate, nor the 
foreheads and eyebrows, to which he so well knew how to im- 
part individuality and character) contain too few of the small 
lines, and the distinct parts have too little precision ; he prin- 
cipally painted to produce effect at the distance of a few paces. 
Gibbon, Vanderbanck, Mans, Poel, and probably others, whose 
names do not occur to my memory at this moment, excepted, 
how many Dutch, English, and Italian painters, supposing the 


axiom true which says the servile copyist is no painter, have 
reproachfully omitted to copy the fine minutiae of nature, and 
imposed upon taste the specious, intoxicating, general likeness, 
from which little is to be learnt by the physiognomist. Gene- 
ral ! — Does nature work thus in general ? — Yes, ye Generalists ! 
I shall certainly consider you as the best of the scholars, the 
imitators of nature ! 

Kupezki, Kilian, Lucas Kranache, and Holbein particularly, 
are among the first of portrait painters. How much more 
will the physiognomist learn from these, although good taste 
and freedom are often wanting ! Truth must ever be preferred 
to beauty. I would rather write the true than the beautiful. 
I mean not to praise what is confused, but the best pictures of 
Erasmus, by Holbein, greatly exceed all the portraits of Van- 
dyke, in truth and simplicity. To despise what is minute is to 
despise nature. What can be more minute, and less confused, 
than the works of nature ? The heads of Teniers are invalu- 
able to the physiognomist, although, with his microscopic mi- 
nuteness, he has neglected to convey the spirit of the whole. — 
Neither can Soutmann, excellent as many of his heads are, be 
recommended to the student of physiognomy. The precision 
and certainty of Blyhof are, to me, more valuable ; and the 
portraits of Morin are scarcely to be equalled for the physiog- 

I have only seen a few heads of Rembrandt that can be of 
use to the student. 

Colla would, probably, have been one of the greatest of por- 
trait painters, had he not died in youth. Most of his heads 
are excellent for the study of physiognomy. 

Among historical designers and painters, a small number of 
whom were physiognomists, while the remainder applied them- 
selves to the expression of the passions, only the following are, 
in many respects, worthy notice ; though, in reality, the worst 
may afford materials to the student. 

Nature, the noble, intoxicating pleasure, the sublime, may 
be learnt from Titian. There is a portrait by him, at Dussel- 
dorf. which has few equals in the natural and sublime. 

The features of pride, contempt, severity, arrogance, and 



power repressed, are conspicuous in the works of Michael 

In Guido Rheni, all the traits of calm, pure, heavenly love. 

In Reubens, the lineaments of all that is cruel, powerful, 
benign and — hellish. It is to be regretted that he did not 
paint more portraits. His Cardinal Ximenes, at Dusseldorf, 
surpasses the best of the Vandykes. 

In Vanderwerf, features and countenances replete with the 
purest, the noblest, humility ; and godlike suffering. 

In Laresse, still more in Poussin, and most of all in Raphael ; 
simplicity, greatness of conception, tranquil superiority, sub- 
limity the most exalted. Raphael never can be enough studied, 
although he only exercised his mind on the rarest forms, and 
the grandest traits of countenance. 

In Hogarth — alas ! how little of the noble, how little of 
beauteous expression is to be found in this — I had almost 
said, false prophet of beauty ! But what an immense treasure 
of features of meanness in excess, vulgarity the most disgust- 
ing, humour the most irresistible, and vice the most unmanly ! 

In Gerard Douw, vulgar character, deceit, attention. — There 
is a picture of a mountebank, by him, at Dusseldorf, from the 
countenance of whom, and his hearers, the physiognomist may 
abstract many a lineament. 

In Wilkenboon, the best defined expressions of ridicule. 

In Spranger, every kind of violent passion. 

In Callot, every species of beggar, knave, and thief, are cha- 
racterized. The worst of this kind are, also, to be found in 
A. Bath. 

In H. Goltz and Albert Durer, every kind of comic, mean, 
common, mechanical, servile, boorish countenance and feature. 

In M. Vos, Lucas van Leyden, and Sebastian Brand, all 
these, and still more ; many traits and countenances full of 
the noble power and truth of apostolic greatness. 

In Rembrandt, all the most tasteless passions of the vulgar. 

In Annibal Caracci, traits of the ridiculous, and every kind 
of the strong, and the vicious, caricatured. He had the gift, 
so necessary to the physiognomist, of portraying much cha- 
racter in a few strokes. 


In Chodowiecki, innumerable traits of innocence ; of the 
child, the servant, the virgin, the matron ; of vices, of the 
gestures, of the passions ; in citizens, nobles, soldiers and 

In Schellenberg, every trait of vulgar humour. 

In La Fage, the behaviour and postures of voluptuous 

In Rugendas, all imaginable features of wrath, pain, pas- 
sion, and exultation. 

In Bloemart, little, except some positions of relaxed, silent 

In Schlutter, every lineament of a calm, noble, great mind, 
suffering bodily pain. — The same racked in the distortions of 

In Fuseli, gigantic traits of rage, terror, madness, pride, 
fieroe distraction, hell. 

In Mengs, the traits of taste, nobility, harmony, and tran- 
quillity of soul. 

In West, exalted simplicity, tranquillity, infantine innocence. 

In Le Brun, the eyes, eyebrows, and mouths of every pas- 

Add your own name, noble Count, to those of the great 
masters whom the physiognomists may and will study. 

Let the student select every kind of trait, from these and 
other masters, and class, and insert them in his common-place 
portfolio, then will he, I am convinced, very shortly see what, 
though all may, none do see, know what all may, none do know. 
Yet from all these painters he will, ten times for one, only 
gain pathognomonical knowledge. His physiognomical acquisi- 
tions will be few. Still, however, though not frequently, he 
will sometimes be instructed. And here, noble Count, will I, 
at this time conclude ; that I may not weary one who does not 
make physiognomy his only study 






Permit me, noble Count, to send a few more miscellaneous 
thoughts, counsels, and entreaties to the physiognomist, for 
your inspection, if you are not already fatigued by my former 
essay. I shall be as brief as possible. How few shall I be 
able to say of the innumerable things which shall remain to be 
said ! Not all, but the most necessary, and as they occur ; 
whatever the order, the matter will be the same 


Nature forms man according to one standard ; which, how- 
ever various, always continues, like the pentograph, in the same 
parallelism and proportion. 

Every man who, without some external accident of force, 
does not remain in the general parallelism of humanity, is a 
monster born ; and the more he remains in the purest, hori- 
zontal, perpendicular, parallelism of the human form, the more 
is he perfect, manly, and divine.* This is an observation which 
I should first require the student to demonstrate ; and, after- 
wards, to make it a general principle. Often has it been said, 
yet not often enough, that the greatest of minds may inhabit 
the most deformed of bodies ; genius and virtue may take up 
their abode in many a distorted shape, as they often do in the 
poorest huts ; but are there not huts in which no human being 
can stand upright ; and are there not heads, are there not 

* In the use of the words, horizontal, perpendicular, parallelism, the 
author evidently has the same allusion to the pentograph in view; they 
would else be absurd. 


forms, in which no greatness of mind, no genius, can erect 
itself ? Therefore let the physiognomist seek for those beau- 
teous, those well-proportioned forms, in which great minds 
are ever found, and which forms, though they may deviate from 
proportion, still leave sufficient freedom and room for the abode 
of talents and virtue ; or, probably, by restraint, add power to 
talents and virtue. 


When the principal trait is significant, so are the inferior 
traits. The smallest must have a cause as well as the greatest. 
Each has a cause, or none have. If, O physiognomist! this 
requires demonstration, renounce the study of physiognomy. 

The most beauteous countenance is capable of excessive 
degradation, and the most deformed of like improvement ; but 
each form, each countenance, is only capable of a certain kind 
and degree of degradation or improvement. Let the physiog- 
nomist study this possible degree of perfectibility and degra- 
dation of each countenance ; let him often consider the 
meanest countenance when performing the noblest, and the 
noblest when performing the meanest action. 

Positive character in a countenance discovers positive power; 
but the want of the positive does not show the want of the 
corresponding qualities : that is to say, in general, though it 
does the want of the particular kind, or the particular appli- 
cation of that quality. 


Let the physiognomist especially study opposite counte- 
nances, such as in themselves are incapable of comparison, and 
can only be compared by the intervention of a third. Two 
countenances, totally at warfare with each other, are, to the 
physiognomist, phenomena of inestimable worth. 

Let the student confide in his first, most rapid sensations 


the most ; and more in these than in what he may suppose the 
result of observation. The more his remark was the effect of 
sensation flowing from, and awakened by sensation, the more 
accurate will induction be. Yet let him not forsake the in- 
quiries of observation. Let him draw the trait, the form, the 
attitudes by which he "was moved ; and, in like manner, traits, 
forms, and attitudes, the most opposite; then let him show 
them to unaffected, sound reasoning men, and ask what qua- 
lities those things denote. Should they all concur in judgment, 
let him trust his first rapid feelings as he would inspiration. 

Suffer not the smallest, the most accidental, apparently 
insignificant, remark to be lost. Let each be carefully col- 
lected ; though, at first, its signification be unknown. They 
will soon or late be found useful. 

Delineate the stature of men. Consider what the tall, the 
middle-sized, and the short have in common. Each will be 
found to have its common appropriate character in the whole, 
and in the features individually. 


Consider the voices of men ; their height, depth, strength, 
weakness ; whether hollow, clear, rough, pleasant, natural, or 
feigned ; and inquire what foreheads and tones are oftenest 
associated. If the student has a good ear, he will certainly 
acquire the knowledge of temperament, character, and what 
class the forehead belongs to by the voice. 


There is something in the countenance of each man by which 
he, in particular, is characterized. 1 have, in various places, 
mentioned that there are traits which, without exception, are 
characteristic of each countenance ; but exclusive of these 
general there are also particular traits, determinately precise, 
and, if I may so say, of the most acute significance. Let the 


searching eye of the physiognomist be fixed on these. All men 
of profound thought have not strikingly thoughtful counte- 
nances ; some only have the character of thoughtfulness, that 
is to say, the signs of thought, in certain wrinkles of the fore- 
head. The character of benevolence is sometimes only visible 
in the form, position, and colour of the teeth. Discontent is 
sometimes only depicted in certain angular lines, or hollowness 
of the cheeks. 


Carefully examine, and distinguish, the natural, the acci- 
dental, and the violent. Monsters excepted, nature is ever 
uninterrupted. Continuity is nature's seal ; violent accidents 
produce discontinuity. Accident has often been affirmed to 
place inseparable difficulties in the path of physiognomy ; but 
what can be more easily discovered than such accidents? How 
visible are the distortions occasioned by the small pox ! How 
apparent are the consequences, in general, of wounds, falls, 
and similar violence ! I own I have known people who, in 
consequence of a fall in their youth, have become idiots, yet 
no tokens of the fall were to be seen ; imbecility, however, was 
very remarkable in the countenance, and in the most essential 
form of the head : the extension of the hinder part of the 
head had apparently been prevented by the fall. The physi- 
ognomist, therefore, in all countenances which he would study, 
should inform himself of their nature and education. 


I do not say the physiognomist should finally determine by 
a single sign ; I only say it is sometimes possible. There are, 
sometimes, single, decisive, characteristic traits, as well of 
general inclination, as of individual passions : there are fore- 
heads, noses, lips, eyes, which singly, betoken strength, weak- 
ness, ardour, phlegm, acuteness, dulness, wrath, or revenge, 
as far as they express certain other determinate parts. Yet, 
however I may recommend it to the friend of physiognomy not 
to neglect the smallest single trait of the countenance, never 
can I, too often, too earnestly repeat — combine the whole, 
compare each with each, examine the whole of nature, the 


form, the complexion, the bones, the muscles, the flexibility, 
inflexibility, motion, position, gait, voice, manners, actions, 
love, hatred, passions, weeping, laughing, humour, fancy, 
anger. — Neglect no single part ; but again combine the single 
with the general. Learn, likewise, to distinguish the natural 
from the factitious, the peculiar from the borrowed. Where- 
ever the factitious and the borrowed are assumed, there will 
the power of assuming be found. This, by degrees, will enable 
the student to determine what such countenance can assume, 
what not. Certain countenances cannot assume gentleness, 
nor can others violence and arrogance. — "All countenances 
can be mild, all angry." — They can so ; but mildness is as 
natural, or factitious, to some countenances, as wrath is to 
others. Study the grand forms, the outlines of nature at 
rest, and thence will be learned which of the innate, inde- 
structible characters of mind are repugnant to each other, 
and which are impossible to exist in the same person ; har- 
mony will be discovered where discord is generally supposed ; 
and till this is discovered, man remains to the student undis- 
covered. Deductions from one to two, from two to three, 
and, thus, to greater numbers, will follow. The mouth will 
be known by the words, the words by the mouth ; the style 
from the forehead, the forehead from the style. — That is to 
say, not what any one shall generally speak, write, or per- 
form ; but what he can, or cannot. How a man will, in 
general, act in given circumstances ; his manner and tone. — 
Thus shall the student be enabled to describe the circle by 
which the form he studied is circumscribed, in which it may 
stand, and act the part allotted, well or ill. 

Important to the student are certain precious moments for 

The moment of sudden, unforeseen, unprepared meeting. 
The moments of welcome, and farewell. 

The moment antecedent to the impetuous burst of passion ; 
the moment of it subsiding ; especially when interrupted by 
the entrance of some respectable person. The power of dissi- 


mulation, and the still remaining traces of passion are then 

The moment of compassion and emotion ; of weeping and 
anger of the soul ; of envy and of friendship. The moment, 
especially, of the greatest degree of tranquillity, and of pas- 
sion ; when the man is entirely himself, or entirely forgets 
himself. These combined inform the physiognomist what the 
man is, what he is not, what he can, what he cannot be . 


Examine the superiority of one countenance over another. 
Although the Father of the world has made of one blood "all 
the nations of the earth,'" yet the natural equality of men is 
one of the most unpardonable errors of affected benevolence 
and phlegmatic enthusiasm. 

Each created being, animate or inanimate, rules over mil- 
lions, and is subject to millions. It must rule, and it must be 
subject. It is by nature impelled to both. Endeavour, there- 
fore, to discover the innate, divine, incommunicable, insepara- 
ble, superiority and inferiority of every organized body, and 
accurately to define and compare its outlines. Compare the 
strongest with the weakest, incessantly ; a certain number of 
outlines of the more powerful, with an equal number of the 
yielding, the subjected. Having obtained the extremes, the 
intermediate proportions will be easily found. I cannot too 
often repeat, let the student seek and he will find, with mathe- 
matical precision, the proportions of the imperative and the 
obsequious forehead, the sovereign and the slavish nose. 


Be it continually remembered that like countenances like 
characters ; — like foreheads like countenances ; at least, in 
the general form. Let the student, therefore, on every oppor- 
tunity, examine and compare resembling men, resembling 
skulls, countenances, foreheads, and features. 

When the physiognomist finds a man endowed with the 


rarest of all rare gifts, the gift of unaffected, critical atten- 
tion ; who never answers before he understands the question, 
who is decided, yet seldom decides ; let him study this man, 
and his features and traits, individually. The understanding, 
worth, and power of a man will be defined by his degree of 
attention. He who cannot listen can perform nothing deserv- 
ing the name of true wisdom and virtue. The attentive, on 
the contrary, are capable of all of which man ought to be 
capable. Such an attentive countenance will itself supply the 
student with an index, by which to discover the best properties 
of innumerable men. 

A man, also, when he removes a thing, or presents it to 
another, and earnestly fixes his eyes, without constraint, upon 
the person to which it is presented, is most deserving to be 
studied. Trifles often decide much concerning the character 
of the man. The manner of taking, holding, or returning a 
tea-cup, is frequently very significant. It may be affirmed that 
whoever can perform the smallest office, with entire circum- 
spection, is capable of much greater. 


The student who has discovered the following features, each 
distinctly excellent and marking, and all combined with pro- 
portion, may rest assured he has discovered a countenance 
almost preternatural. 

a A striking symmetry between the three principal features 
of the face ; the forehead, nose, and chin. 

b A forehead that ends horizontally, consequently eyebrows 
nearly horizontal, bold, and compressed. 

c Eyes of a clear blue, or clear brown, that at a little dis- 
tance appear black, with the upper eyelid covering about a 
fourth or a fifth part of the pupil. 

d The ridge of the nose broad, almost straight, but some- 
what bent, 

e A mouth, in its general form, horizontal ; the upper lip 
of which, and the middle line in the centre, is gently, but 
somewhat deeply, sunken : the under lip not larger than the 



f A round projecting chin. 

y Short, dark brown, curly hair, in large divisions. 

In order accurately to observe the countenance, it must be 
seen in full, in three-fourths, in seven-eights, in profile, and 
from top to bottom. The eyes should first be closed, and so 
remain for some time, and should afterwards be opened. The 
whole countenance discovers too much at the first view ; it 
therefore should be separately examined in all its aspects. 


With respect to copying after nature, busts, paintings, or 
prints, I constantly, and earnestly, advise the physiognomist 
to draw outlines only, and not to shade, that he may acquire 
that dexterity which is so indispensable : also to acquire the 
habit of defining perplexities, interminglings, intersha dings, all 
that is apparently indeterminate : to learn to select, to ima- 
gine, and to portray them individually. I know that all those 
painters who are not physiognomists, and cannot draw, will 
exelaim against such a practice ; yet is this, and will ever re- 
main, the only practice which, for the designer as well as for 
the physiognomist, unites all the advantages of facility, preci- 
sion, perspicuity, instruction, and many others. The well 
known passions of Le Brun are certain proofs of its advantages. 


Oil paintings, when perfect, are the most useful to the phy- 
siognomist ; but this they are so seldom, and when perfect are 
so expensive, that a royal treasure is requisite for their pur- 
chase. Drawings in black chalk are the most useless. I would 
advise the physiognomist neither to copy them nor miniature 
pictures. They will acquire perhaps what is called a free and 
picturesque manner, but it will be wholly indeterminate, con- 
sequently untrue, and unnatural. I have hitherto found no- 
thing equal to the English black lead pencil, retouched by 
Indian ink, to express the physiognomonical character of the 
countenance, round, picture, que, powerful, and precise. The 


chamber should be darkened, and the aperture by which light 
is admitted round, not more than one foot in diameter, and 
about three or four feet higher than the person to be drawn, 
on whom the light should fall somewhat obliquely. This, after 
repeated experiment, I find to be one of the most easy, pic- 
turesque, and characteristic methods of taking the countenance 
It might perhaps be as well to let the light fall perpendicularly 
on some faces ; but this should only be for the flat and tender 
featured ; the shades of prominent features would be too 
powerful. A camera obscura, also, which should diminish the 
head thus enlightened about three-fourths, might in this case 
be serviceable, not immediately to draw by, because motion 
would render this impracticable, but the better to compare the 
drawing to the true figure on the instrument. 


I might advise the reading of books on physiognomy, and, 
could I, with a good conscience, I so most willingly would. — 
My advice is, that the student should dedicate a fortnight to 
peruse them once through. After mature examination, let 
him select the most precise of their positions. Having read 
two or three, we may be said to have read them all ; Porta, 
among the old writers, and Peuschel and Pernetty, among the 
more modern, having collected most that has been said. The 
first good, bad, and indifferent ; doctrines that are self-contra- 
dictory. All that Arifttotle, Pliny, Suetonius, Polemon, Ada- 
mantinus, Galen, Trogus Conciliator, Albertus, Scotus, Male- 
tius, Avicenna, and many others of his predecessors, have 
written, is to be found in this author, one opinion after another, 
like beads strung on a rosary. Yet, he sometimes judges for 
himself, and renders his judgments more interesting, more 
worthy attention that those of his predecessors, by giving en- 
gravings of well-known countenances : nor is he so bigoted to 
astrology as they are, although he has not conquered such silly 
prejudices. Peuschel, and still more Pernetty, have essentially 
served physiognomy, by banishing many gross absurdities. 
Their writings contain little that is original, and are far from 
accurately defining the traits of the countenance, without 


which, physiognomy must remain the most useless of all 
crude sciences. The Physiognomonica Medicinalis of Hel- 
vetius deserves to be read for the incomparable manner 
in which some of the principal temperaments are characte- 
rized. His planetary influence excepted, he will be found 

Huart also merits reading, though his work is indigested, 
and replete with hypothesis. He has extracted what was most 
valuable in Aristotle, Galen, and Hippocrates, and added his 
own remarks, made with accuracy. These, however, are but 
thinly scattered. Philip May contains little that is useful. 
The penetrating Chambre is much more valuable, and has been 
particularly fortunate in defining the passions ; but he has 
given no physiognomonical outlines or drawings. 

The countenance of Ab Indagine is of much more terrific 
appearance than his book, which, though mostly copied after 
others, merits to be read. Marbitius " De varietate faciei 
humanse discursus physicus, Dresd. 1676, 11 4to., is a wretched 
dauber, who has not above half a dozen original thoughts. A 
modern writer seems to have borrowed one of his most foolish 
projects, that of composing and decomposing the countenance, 
as printers do the alphabet. Parson, happily abridged by 
Buffon, and Haller in his Physiology, is, notwithstanding his 
imperfections, one of the most classical and best of writers, on 
what relates to the motion of the muscles, and the passions of 
the countenance. I shall now mention — absit blasphemia dicto 
— Jacob Behmen — laugh who will ; the sensations, the feel- 
ings, the language of nature, perhaps, no man more eminently 
possessed than this unintelligible Theosoph. — He has left 
traces in his writings of the most profound physiognomonical 
sensation. Not that I will therefore recommend his writings 
to the philosophical physiognomist ; though I will recommend 
his little book on the four complexions, to all who do not despise 
the pearl in the dunghill. 

I hold Gulielmus Gratarolus, physician of Bergamo, to be 
one of the physiognomists most deserving of attention; and 
recommend his book, particularly, for its richness and its bre- 
vity. Its title is, " De preedictione morum naturarumque ho- 


milium facili, cum ex inspectione vultus, aliarumque corporis 
partium, turn aliis modis." 

Of all the writers on physiognomy of the last century, Scipio 
Claramontius is certainly far the best, most learned, most wor 
thy to be read, and the least of a compiler. His knowledge 
was great, his judgment accurate, and his decisions acute, yet 
concise. His book, " De conjectandis cujusque moribus et 
latitantibus animi affectibus," deserves, if not to be wholly 
translated, at least to be abridged, and published with remarks 
and additions. Much is wanting to the work, though it is 
more rich in materials than any preceding one with which I 
am acquainted. It is not without numerous inaccuracies, 
which he has copied ; but whoever is acquainted with his pre- 
decessors, and is capable of comparing them, will wonder to find 
him so frequently, and so truly, original. In the very places 
where he is deficient, I always find thought and penetration ; 
and, notwithstanding he is scholastic and methodical, I seldom 
find him dry, superficial, or other than meritorious. Merit is 
so often wanting in modern writers, on and against physiog- 
nomy, that wherever I find it free from affectation and preten- 
sion, it gives me delight ; and this merit, open it where we will, 
is found in the book of Claramontius. He is not a mere scho- 
lar, a recluse ; his physiognomonical knowledge is united with 
a comprehensive, moral, and political knowledge of mankind ; 
he accustomed himself to apply general rules to particular 
causes and circumstances ; he has happily interwoven his asto- 
nishing learning with his observations and calculations ; he has 
discovered the signs of the passions with much penetration, as 
well by his knowledge of books as of men, and has explained 
his remarks with equal perspicuity : and I recommend him, 
from conviction, to the student of men, and, especially, of the 
characters and mental qualities of man. 


A considerable selection of the most remarkable and signifi- 
cant countenances is absolutely necessary to the physiognomist. 
I shall insert the names of those which I would especially re- 
commend, at the conclusion of this fragment, and every collec- 


tion of prints will readily supply an augmentation. The list 
will contain none but such as I have myself seen, and copied 
for my own purpose, from a collection to which I have access, 
each of which, individually deserves a commentary, and to be 
compared with others similar and dissimilar. I can but give 
their names, with the certainty that whoever is possessed of a 
physiognomonical eye, cannot have once glanced over such a 
collection, without having considerably strengthened his dis- 
cernment. Whoever shall compare and study their characters, 
history, acts, and writings, with their countenances, can 
scarcely examine one attentively without discovering new prin- 
ciples of physiognomy. I have to thank these heads for a great 
part of such knowledge as I possess. 


Converse with the wisest and best men, who, to thousands, 
are but like a sealed book, a pearl hid in a field. Such con- 
versation is, to the student of physiognomy, the most indis- 
pensable of all indispensable things. He, whose philanthropic 
eye, with unenvious simplicity and angelic rapture, seeks per- 
fection, turn where he will, it will be met ; it will be found 
where he seeks, and where he does not seek. His God will 
shine visible in thousands of human forms. The expectation 
of this will open his eyes to behold what no man beholds till it 
is shown him, and what every man beholds when shown. 


To the student I once more repeat, judge but seldom, how- 
ever importuned by those who wish stupidly to wonder at, or 
to render this science ridiculous. Turn calmly, but deter- 
minedly, from indiscreet curiosity. He who is overcome by 
foolish importunity, acts foolishly. Error may follow, how- 
ever guarded the expression ; and, if it should, ridicule will 
be as insolent and unlimited as if he who has mistaken had 
affirmed it was impossible he should mistake. 

This, noble Count, is part of that much which may be said. 
I envy not him whose knowledge or whose language may be 
superior to mine. Adieu. 



For the ease of such of our readers who have something 
more than curiosity to gratify, the following list of remarkable 
countenances is to aid those who wish to search, observe, and 

Abrissel, Ch'arles Adolphus. Agrippa, Cornelius. Albert I. Albert, 
Duke of Friesland. Albinus. Alexander VIII. Amherst, Jeffery. An- 
hold. Anson, Lord. Apollonius. Aurullarius, Daniel. Aretine, Peter. 
Aretine, Anthony. Aretine, Rosel. Argulus, Andreas. Arnaud, Anthony. 
Balseus, Johannes. Bandinelli. Bankest, Admiral. Barbarin. Bar- 
bieri. Baricellus, Julius Caesar. Bastius, Henry. Bayle. Becker, 
Balthazar. Bellarmin. Benedict XIV. Bengel. Berthold V. Berghe, 
Von. Bernard, Henry, Duke of Saxe Weimar. Bernini. Beaulieu, 
James. Beza. Bidloo. Boileau. Boromseus. Bourbon, Anthony. 
Bourbon, the Constable. Boxhorn. Bracket, Theophrastus. Briighel. 
Bronkh, Vonder. Brutus. Briissel. Buchanan. Buddeus, William. 
Bourdulle, Peter. Burman, Peter. Butler, Samuel. Cachiopin, James. 
Ca?sar, Julius. Caldara. Caligula. Callu, James. Calvin. Camera- 
rius. Canisius. Cavistus. Charles I. King of England. Charles V. 
Charles XII. and IX. of Sweden. Caracci. Carravache. Casaubon. 
Casimir, King of Poland. Cassini. Castaldus. Caylus. Celsus. Cham- 
paigne. Cicero. Cholet. Christina II. Clark. Clauberg, John. Cle- 
ment VII. Clement VIII. Cocceius. Coddseus, Peter. Colbert. 
Cook. Commines, Philip de. Condern, Charles. Coligni, Admiral. 
Crato, John. Copernicus. Cornelissen, Anthony. Corneille. Caspran, 
Philip. Cromwell. Cuspinianus. Democritus. Demosthenes. Derby, 
Charles, Earl of. Descartes. Dieu, Ludovicus de. Doionus, Nicholas 
Drusius. Dryden. Dubois. Dyck, John van. Durer. Elizabeth, 
Queen of England. Enfant, James de 1'. Erasmus. Espernon. Evre- 
mont, St. Fabricius, Ludovicus. Ferdinand I. Fevre, Nicholas Le. 
Fielding, Henry. Fischer, John. Fleury, Cardinal de. Florisz, Peter. 
Foix, Gaston de. Fontaine, La. Foressus, Petrus. Foster. Frangi- 
panis, Cornelius. Frank, Francis, Frank, Francis the younger. Francis 
I., King of France. Frederic William, Elector. Frederic II., King of 
Prussia. Frederic III. Frederic IV. Fries, Admiral. Fugger, Henry. 
Galen. Gambold. Gardin, Gabriel de. Gamier. Geader. Gess, Cor- 
nelius van der. Gentilefri, Horace. Geritaw, Robert. Germanicus. 
Gessner, Albert. Gessner, Conrad. Gessner, John. Gevartius, Caspe- 
rius. Geyler, John. Goclenius. Goldoni. Goltzius. Gonzaga. Gra- 


ham. Grsevius, Daniel. Grotius, Hugo. Griinbuelt, Arnold. Grynaeus. 
Gusman, Philip. Gustavus Adolphua. Guijon. Hagedron. Hagebuck 
Haller, Berthold. Harder, James. Hamilton. Harduin, Archbishop 
Harcourt. Hebenstreit. Henry II. Henry IV. Henry VIII. Herwig. 
Helmont, John Baptist van. Helvetius. Heydan, Abraham. Holbein, 
Hans. Homer. Hondius, William. Home, John. Hosennestel, Abra- 
ham. Houbraken. Howard, Thomas. Hutten, Ulrich von. Janin, 
Peter. Indagine, John Ab. Innocent X. Jode, Peter. John, son of 
Rudolph II. Johnson, Samuel. Isabella, Eugenia. Junius, Robert. 
Junius, Adrian. Junker, John. Karschnin. Kilian. Kircher. Knel- 
ler, Sir Godfrey. Knipperdolling. Kraft, Frederic. Kupesky. Labadie. 
Lactantius. Lanwe, Christopher van der. Lanfranc, John. Langecius, 
Hermannus. Lavater, Ludwig. Leibnitz. Leo X. Leopold I. Ley- 
den, Lucas van. Linguet. Lithoust. Liorus, John. Locke. Lotichius, 
Petrus. Lorrain, Charles V. of. Longueval, Charles of. Loyola. Lud- 
low. Ludwig, Edm. Count Palatine. Louis XIII. Louis XIV. Luther. 
Lutma, Janus. Lulli. Lucius Verus. Malherbe. Mansfeld. Marl- 
borough. Marillac, Louis de. Maraldi. Marlort. Marot. Marthe, St. 
Mattheson. Matthias I. Maximilian I. Maximilian II. Mazarine. 
Meinuccius, Raphael. Meiigre, John. Melanchthon. Mercurialis, Hie- 
ronymus. Merian, Matthew. Mettrie, La. Meyr, William. Michael, 
Sebastian. Michael Angelo. Mignard. Milton. Moliere. Molinaeus 
Mompel, Louis de. Monami, Peter. Moncade, Francis de. Montanus. 
Montagne. Montesquieu. Montmorency, Henry, Duke of. Morgagni 
Morney. Moruel. Moulin, Charles du. Muschenbroek. Muntzer, 
Thomas. Nassau, Amalia. Nassau, Frederic Henry. Nassau, John. 
Nassau, William Louis. Nero. Niger, Antonius. Noort, Adam. 
Newton. Oddus de Oddis. Orange, Maria. Osterman, Peter. Oster- 
wald. Osman, William. Ottoman. Palamedes, Palamedessen. Para- 
celsus, Theophrastus. Parma, Farnesius de. Pascal. Patin, Charles. 
Patin, Guido. Paul V. Pauw, Regner. Pieresc, Fabricius. Pelican. 
Pelisse. Pepin, Martin. Perrault, Claude. Perera, Emanuel Frocas. 
Peruzzi. Peter Martyr, Peter I. Petit, John Louis. Petri, Rodolph. 
Philip the Good. Philip the Bold. Pianus. Pithou, Francis. Plato 
Pope. Porta. Ptolemy, Claudius. Puteanus, Ericus. Putnam, Israel. 
Quesnel. Quesnoy. Raphael. Rabelais, Francis. Razenstein, Henry, 
Retz, Cardinal de. Rhenferd, James. Rhyne, William. Ricciardi, 
Thomas. Richelieu. Rigaud. Rombouzt, Theodore. Ronsard. 
Rouse, Gerard. Rubens. Rudolph II. Rufus. Ruysch. Savanarola. 
Schmidt von Schwartzenhorn. Scalichius, George. Saurin. Savoy, 
Thomas Francis de. Savoy, Francis Thomas de. Savoy, Charles 
Emanuel de Sachtleven, Cornelius. Sachs, Hans. Schramm, George 
Gotlieb. Sebizius. Seghers, Gerhard. Segers, Gerard. Seba, Albert. 
Skadey. Scarron. Scaglia, Caesar Alexander. Sixtus V. Sortia. 
Scuderi, Magdelaine de. Schwenkfeld Schutt, Cornelius. Scheuch- 



zer, James. Schoepflin, Daniel. Schorer, Leonard. Socrates. Son" 
nenfels. Sophocles. Sorbon. Spanheim, Frederic. Spener, Philip 
James. Spinosa. Sturm von Sturmegg. Sayra, Abbe. Seide, Francis. 
Swift. Schuil. Tabourin, Thomas. Tassis, Anthony. Taulerus, John. 
Tindal. Titian. Titus. Thou, Gerard de. Thou, Augustus de. 
Thourneuser, Leonard. Thoyras, Rapin de. Thuanus. Thoulouse 
Montchal de. Uden, Lucas von. Uladislaus VI. Uladislaus, King of 
Poland. Ulrich, James. Ursius, Honorius. Ursinus. Valette. Van- 
loo. Warin, John. Wasener, James. Weiss, Leonard of Augsburg. 
Werenfels. Vesalius. Vespasian. Vespucius, Americus. Viaud.Theo- 
philus de. Wildes, John. William, King of England. Villeroy, Marquis. 
Willis, Richard. Wurtemberg, Everard, Duke of. Vitrii, Anthony. 
Wolf, Christian. Volkammer, George. Voltaire. With, Conrad. 
Vopper, Leonard. Vorster, Lucas. Voss, Simon. Vouet. Zampier. 
Zinzendorf. Zuinglius. Ziska, John. 


The most natural, manly, useful, noble, and, however ap- 
parently easy, the most difficult of arts is portrait painting. 
Love first discovered this heavenly art. Without love what 
could it perform ? — But what love ? — And the lover — who ? 

Since a great part of the present work, and the science on 
which it treats, depend on this art, it is proper that something 
should be said on the subject. — Something — for how new, 
how important, and great a work might be written on this 
art ! For the honour of man, and of the art, I hope such a 
work will be written. I do not think it ought to be the work 
of a painter, however great in his profession, but of the under- 
standing friend of physiognomy, the man of taste, the daily 
confidential observer of the great portrait painter. — Sultzer, 
that philosopher of taste and discernment, has an excellent 
article, in his dictionary, on this subject, under the word por- 
trait. But what can be said, in a work so confined, on a sub- 
ject so extensive ? 

Again, whoever will employ his thoughts on this art, will 
find that it is sufficient to exercise all the searching, all the 
active powers of man ; that it never can be entirely learned, 
nor ever can arrive at ideal perfection. 

I will endeavour to recapitulate some of the avoidable and 

on portrait painting. 171 

unavoidable difficulties attendant on this art. The knowledge 
of these, in my opinion, is most necessary, as well to the 
painter as to the physiognomist. 

What is portrait painting I It is the communication, the 
preservation of the image of some individual, or of some part 
of the body of an individual : the art of suddenly depicting all 
that can be depicted of that half of man which is rendered 
apparent, and which never can be conveyed in words. 

If what Gbthe has somewhere said be true, and in mv 
opinion nothing can be more true, that — the best text for a 
commentary on man is his presence, his countenance, his form 
— how important then is the art of portrait painting ; 

To this observation of Gbthe's, I will add a passage on the 
subject, from Sultzer's excellent dictionary. 

" Since no object of knowledge whatever can be more im- 
portant to us than a thinking and feeling soul, it cannot be 
denied but that man, considered according to his form, even 
though we should neglect what is wonderful in him, is the 
most important of visible objects." 

Were the portrait painter to know, to feel, to be penetrated 
with this ; penetrated with reverence for the greatest work of 
the greatest master ; were such the subject of his meditation, 
not from constraint, but native sensation ; were it as natural 
to him as the love of life, how important, how sacred to hhn, 
would his art become ! — Sacred to him should be the living 
countenance as the text of holy scripture to the translator. 
As careful should the one be not to falsify the work, as should 
the other not to falsify the word of God. 

How great is the contempt which a wretched translator 01 
an excellent work deserves, whose mind is wholly inferior to 
the mind of his original. — And is it not the same with the 
portrait painter ? The countenance is the theatre on which 
the soul exhibits itself; here must its emanations be studied 
and caught. Whoever cannot seize these emanations cannot 
paint, and whoever cannot paint these is no portrait painter. 

" Each perfect portrait is an important painting, since it 
displays the human mind with the peculiarities of personal 
character. In such we contemplate a being in which under- 


standing, inclinations, sensations, passions, good and bad 
qualities of mind and heart, are mingled in a manner peculiar 
to itself. We here see them better, frequently, than in na- 
ture herself; since in nature nothing is fixed, all is swift, all 
transient. In nature, also, we seldom behold the features 
under that propitious aspect in which they will be transmitted 
oy the able painter. 1 ' 

Could we indeed seize the fleeting transitions of nature, or 
had she her moments of stability, it would then be much more 
advantageous to contemplate nature than her likeness; but, 
this being impossible, and since likewise few people will suffer 
themselves to be observed sufficiently to deserve the name of 
observation, it is to me indisputable that a better knowledge 
of man may be obtained from portraits than from nature, she 
being thus uncertain, thus fugitive. 

" Hence the rank of the portrait painter may easily be de- 
termined; he stands next to the painter of history. Nay, 
history painting itself derives a part of its value from its por- 
traits : for expression, one of the most important requisites in 
historical painting, will be the more estimable, natural, and 
strong, the more of actual physiognomy is expressed in the 
countenances, and copied after nature. A collection of excel- 
lent portraits is highly advantageous to the historical painter 
for the study of expression. 1 ' 

Where is the historical painter who can represent real beings 
with all the decorations of fiction ? Do we not see them all 
copying copies ? True it is they frequently copy from imagina- 
tion ; but this imagination is only stored with the fashionable 
figures of their own or former times. 

This premised, let us now enumerate some of the surmount- 
able difficulties of portrait painting. I am conscious the free- 
dom with which I shall speak my thoughts will offend, yet to 
give offence is far from my intention. I wish to aid, to teach 
that art which is the imitation of the works of God ; I wish 
improvement. And how is improvement possible without a 
frank and undisguised discovery of defects ? 

In all the works of portrait painters which I have seen, 
I have remarked the want of a more philosophical, that is 


to say, a more just, intelligible, and universal knowledge of 
men. ° 

The insect painter who has no accurate knowledge of insects 
the form, the general, the particular, which is appropriated to 
each insect, however good a copyist he may be, will certainly 
be a bad painter of insects. The portrait painter, however 
excellent a copyist (a thing much less general than is imagined 
by connoisseurs), will paint portraits ill, if he have not the most 
accurate knowledge of the form, proportion, connexion, and 
dependence of the* great and minute parts of the human bodv, 
as far as they have a remarkable influence on the superficies j 
if he have not investigated, most accurately, each individual 
member and feature. For my own part, be my knowledge 
what it may, it is far from accurate in what relates to the 
minute specific traits of each sensation, each member, each 
feature; yet I daily remark that this acute, this indispensable 
knowledge, is every where, at present, uncultivated, unknown, 
and difficult to convey to the most intelligent painters. 

Whoever will be at the trouble of considering a number of 
men, promiscuously taken, feature by feature, will find that 
each ear, each mouth, notwithstanding their infinite diversity, 
have yet their small curves, corners, characters, which are 
common to all, and which are found stronger or weaker, more 
or less marking, in all men, who are not monsters born ; at 
least, in these parts. 

Of what advantage is all our knowledge of the great pro- 
portions of the body and countenance ? (Yet -even that part 
of knowledge is, by far, not sufficiently studied, not sufficiently 
accurate. Some future physiognomonical painter will justify 
this assertion, till when be it considered as nothing more than 
cavil.) Of what advantage, I say, is all our knowledge of the 
great proportions, when the knowledge of the finer traits, which 
are equally true, general, determinate, and no less significant, 
is wanting I and this want is so great, that 1 appeal to those 
who are best informed, whether many of the ablest painters, 
who have painted numerous portraits, have any tolerably ac- 
curate, or general theory of the mouth only ; I do not mean 
the anatomical mouth, but the mouth of the painter, which he 


ought to see, and may see, without any anatomical know- 

Let us examine volume after volume of engravings of por- 
traits, after the greatest masters. I have examined, therefore 
am entitled to speak. Let us confine observation to the mouth, 
having previously studied infants, boys, youth, manhood, old 
age, maidens, wives, matrons, with respect to the general pro- 
perties of the mouth ; and having discovered these, let us 
compare, and we shall find that almost all painters have failed 
in the general theory of the mouth ; that it seldom happens, 
and seems only to happen by accident, that any master has 
understood these general properties. Yet how indescribably 
much depends on them ! What is the particular, what the 
characteristic, but shades of the general I As it is with the 
mouth so is it with the eyes, eyebrows, nose, and each part 
of the countenance. The same proportion exists* between the 
great features of the face ; and as there is this general pro- 
portion in all countenances, however various, so is there a 
similar proportion between the small traits of these parts. — 
Infinitely varied are the great features, in their general com- 
bination and proportion ; as infinitely varied are the shades of 
the small traits, in these features, however great their general 
resemblance. Without an accurate knowledge of the propor- 
tion of the principal features, as, for example, of the eyes and 
mouth, to each other, it must ever be mere accident, and ac- 
cident that indeed rarely happens, when such proportion exists 
in the works of the painter. Without an accurate knowledge 
of the particular constituent parts, and traits of each principal 
feature, I once again repeat, it must be accident, miraculous 
accident, should any one of them be justly delineated. 

This remark may induce the reflecting artist to study nature 
intimately, by principle, and to show him, if he be in search 
of permanent fame, that, though he ought to behold and study 
the works of the greatest masters with esteem and reverence, 
he yet ought to examine and judge for himself. Let him not 
make the virtue modesty his plea, for under this does omni- 
present mediocrity shelter itself. Modesty, indeed, is not so 
properly virtue as the garb and ornament of virtue, and of 


existing positive power. Let him, I say, examine for himself, 
and study nature, in whole and in part, as if no man ever had 
observed, or ever should observe, but himself. Deprived of this, 
young artist, thy glory will but resemble a meteors blaze ; it 
will only be founded on the ignorance of thy contemporaries. 

The majority of the best portrait painters, when most suc- 
cessful, like the majority of physiognomists, content them- 
selves with expressing the character of the passions in the 
moveable, the muscular features of the face. They do not un- 
derstand, they laugh at rules which prescribe the grand outline 
of the countenance as indispensable to portrait painting, inde- 
pendent of the effects produced by the action of the muscles. 

And till institutions shall be formed for the improvement 
of portrait painting, perhaps till a physiognomonical society 
or academy shall produce physiognomonical portrait painters, 
we shall, at best, but creep in the regions of physiognomy, 
where we might otherwise soar. 

One of the greatest obstacles to physiognomy is the actual, 
incredible, imperfection of this art. 

There is generally a defect of eye, or hand of the painter; 
or the object is defective which is to be delineated ; or, per- 
haps, all three. The artist cannot discover what is, or cannot 
draw it when he discovers. The object continually alters its 
position, which ought to be so exact, so continually the same ; 
or should it not, and should the painter be endowed with an 
all-observing eye, and all-imitative hand, still there is the last 
insuperable difficulty, that of the position of the body, which 
can but be momentary, which is constrained, false, and unna- 
tural, when more than momentary. 

What I have said is trifling indeed to what might be said. 
According to the knowledge I have of it, this is yet unculti- 
vated ground. How little has Sultzer himself said on the 
subject ? But what could he say in a dictionary ? A work 
wholly dedicated to this is necessary to examine and decide on 
the works of the best portrait painters, and to insert all the 
cautions and rules necessary for the young artist, in conse- 
quence of the infinite variety, yet incredible uniformity, of the 
human countenance. 


Whoever would paint portraits perfectly must so paint that 
each spectator may, with truth, exclaim, This is indeed to 
paint ! This is true, living likeness ; perfect nature ; it is 
not painting! — Outline, form, proportion, position, attitude, 
complexion, light and shade, freedom, ease, nature ! Nature ! 
Nature in every characteristic disposition ! Nature in the 
whole ! Nature in the complexion, in each trait, in her most 
beauteous, happiest moments, her most select, most propitious 
state of mind ; near, at a distance, on every side, Truth and 
Nature ! Evident to all men, all ages, the ignorant and the 
connoisseur, most conspicuous to him who has most know-^ 
ledge ; no suspicion of art ; a countenance in a mirror, to 
which we would speak, that speaks to us, that contemplates 
more than it is contemplated ; we rush to it, we embrace it, 
we are enchanted ! — 

Emulate such excellence, young artist, and the least of thy 
attainments, in this age, will be riches and honour, and fame 
in futurity ; with tears shalt thou receive the thanks of father, 
friend, and husband, and thy works shall honour that Being 
whose creations it is the noblest gift of man to imitate, only in 
their superficies, and during a single instant of their existence. 



Fig. 1. — Thus drawn, thus prominent, ought the counte- 
nance to be which the physiognomist is to read. Form and 
traits, all and each, are determinate. — Hard perhaps — but with 
all possible harmony. 

No false pretender; worthy, faithful, regular, benevolent. 
More than the dry hardness of the mouth betokens these. Such 
is this sanguine-phlegmatic countenance — capacity, love of 
order, resolution, fit for active life, sensation for the beautiful, 
the accurate, the highly-finished. No artist, but very capable 
of being one. 

Fig. 2. — The shade more significant than the full face, which 
has been composed, feature after feature, at various times, by 


the artist, who, without preserving the character, has thus de- 
stroyed the effect of the whole. Both, however, are expressive 
of a good, an honest, and an active man ; hut who, with eye 
actually so dull, could have but little penetration. The nose, 
in the shade, has more poetry, and the under part of the 
countenance more nobility, than are perceptible in the por- 
trait. The mouth in the profile has peculiar youthful inno- 

Fig. S. — An observing mind with a barren imagination. 
Thus ought every countenance of this character to be drawn, 
the eyes especially, in order to be known. The forehead too 
flat for an original thinker ; receives much, produces little. 
Ardour and active industry are here sought in vain, but the 
love of inoffensive ridicule may be easily discovered. 

Fig. 4. — The original of this highly characteristic head — 
Colla — might probably have become one of the greatest phy- 
siognomonical painters. Though almost uninstructed, he was 
one of the most original imitators of unimpassioned nature. 
The gloominess of his character, and even of his chamber, 
communicated that gloom which is visible in his paintings. 
The eye is not rapid, but disposed to a calm, successive, ana- 
tomizing inspection of its object. The unassuming mouth 
overflows with phlegmatic goodness. The whole, in general, 
is tinged with susceptibility of mild, religious enthusiasm. Pro- 
minent features, daring touches, arc not to be expected from 
such a countenance. It delighted in that silent, slow progres- 
sion, which leaves nothing incomplete. 

Fig. 5. — A portrait by Colla, which, without having seen the 
original, we may affirm to be a great likeness. Nature, pre- 
cision, harmony, exactness, are discoverable in every part. 
The flat, somewhat sinking forehead, agreeable to the whole, 
denotes an unpolished person, confined within a small circle of 
domestic economy. The strong eyebrows do not speak men- 
tal, but bodily power. Eyebrows are only significant of the 
former when they are unperplexed, equal, and well disposed. 
Nose, chin, neck, hair, all are characteristic of rude, narrow 
insensibility. Rustic sincerity is evident in the mouth. 

Fig. 6. — Not so well drawn and engraved as the foregoing, 


but of a character entirely opposite. Sensible, mild, peace- 
able, void of rude harshness, capable of the best improvement, 
half cultivated, might be wholly a lover of neatness and order, 
all eye, all ear — mildness and regularity are conspicuous in the 

Fig. 7. — This scarcely can be supposed a likeness ; it cer- 
tainly is not a copy of any common original. Such outlines, 
though sketched by the greatest masters, can seldom be true 
to nature, yet will not be entirely missed by the most inferior. 
However indifferent the drawing may be, this must ever re- 
main the countenance of a great, a thinking, orderly, analyzing 
man, of refined taste. The eye, somewhat distorted in drawr 
ing, is rather that of the visionary than the man of deep 
thought. Far from idly conforming to fashion, his feelings 
will be the dictates of reason. The lips are too much cut, too 
insipid for this powerful chin and nose, this thoughtful fore- 
head, this comprehensive, noble back of the head. Such 
countenances should generally be drawn in profile, the better to 
understand their character ; though characteristic they will 
always be in all possible situations. 

Fig. 8. — Another countenance of a thinker, an analyzer, 
yet far from having the proportion of the former. Much less 
rounded, less simple ; to prove which, compare the forehead, 
nose, mouth, and chin. The eye only is more ardent, enter- 
prising, laborious. The whole character, without injury to 
the friendly, benevolent mien, is more forcible, persevering, 
and prompt, as may especially be seen in the forehead, nose, 
and chin. 

Fig. 9. — An original well-drawn countenance. Something 
apparently wanting in the eyes and nostrils. We do not ex- 
pect poetry from the forehead, but an inventive, enquiring, 
mechanical genius ; an unaffected, cheerful, pleasant man, un- 
conscious of his superiority; the nose especially is characteristic 
of an able, active, unwearied mind, labouring to good effect. 
How excellent is the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the mouth. 

Fig. 10. — A head after Vandyke, whether real or imaginary 
is immaterial. It is delightful to look on such a countenance; 
so boldly, so determinately sketched, with such incomparable 


harmony and proportion. To whom is this imperceptible, 
even in this imperfect copy ; or who does not here read the 
great master; the countenance of power, energy, and heroism; 
courageous and productive? Eyes and nose equally good; 
such only as he who conceives and executes can possess. 
The obliquity of the mouth is somewhat contradictory to the 
eyes, nose, and whole countenance. 

Fig. 11. — Another countenance most happily depicted, a 
master-piece of harmony. — A man of comprehensive mind and 
taste ; an eye of abundant sensibility, and properly judging on 
works of art. A forehead more expressive of sound excellent 
iudgment, and ease of conception, than of profound under- 
standing; but no Philistine of a connoisseur, encumbered 
with all his accursed terms of art, has such a nose, with all 
its mellowness and angular outlines. 

Fig. 12. — Countenances of large strong features cannot be 
better represented than after this manner. They seldom have 
small shades. This I acknowledge. The less delicate, the 
rude, the morose, are very conspicuous ; but physiognomy 
should call our attention to what is least visible, what may 
easily be overlooked. — True knowledge will never pronounce 
this an absolutely common countenance. The forehead and 
eyebrow are much above mediocrity. Though the upper part 
of the eyelid be moderate, the line of the under that intersects 
the pupil, is not so, nor is the look of the eye, or even the 
outline of the nose, especially at the tip. Rude as the un- 
der lip may be, there is nothing in the outline of the chin 
betokening want of understanding. Dry, joyless, cold, but 
neither stupid nor weak. The top of the back part of the head 
is certainly, from defect of drawing, too small, injurious to the 
countenance, and contradictory to the eyebrow. 


In organization, nature continually acts from within to 
without, from the centre to the circumference. The same 
vital powers that make the heart beat give the finger motion : 
that which roofs the skull arches the finger nail. Art is at 


variance with itself; not so nature. Her creation is progres- 
sive. From the head to the back, from the shoulder to the 
arm, from the arm to the hand, from the hand to the finger, 
from the root to the stem, the stem to the branch, the branch 
to the twig, the twig to the blossom and fruit, each depends 
on the other, and all on the root ; each is similar in nature 
and form. No apple of one branch can, with all its proper- 
ties, be the apple of another ; not to say of another tree. 
There is a determinate effect of a determinate power. 
Through all nature each determinate power is productive only 
of such and such determinate effects. The finger of one body 
is not adapted to the hand of another body. Each part of an 
organized body is an image of the whole, has the character of 
the whole. The blood in the extremity of the finger has the 
character of the blood in the heart. The same congeniality 
is found in the nerves, in the bones. One spirit lives in all. 
Each member of the body is in proportion to that whole of 
which it is a part. As from the length of the smallest member, 
the smallest joint of the finger, the proportion of the whole, 
the length and breadth of the body, may be found ; so also 
may the form of the whole from the form of each single part. 
When the head is long, all is long ; or round when the head 
is round; and square when it is square. One form, one mind, 
one root, appertain to all. Therefore is each organized body 
so much a whole that, without discord, destruction, or de- 
formity, nothing can be added or diminished. Every thing in 
man is progressive ; every thing congenial ; form, stature, 
complexion, hair, skin, veins, nerves, bones, voice, walk, man- 
ner, style, passion, love, hatred. One and the same spirit is 
manifest in all. He has a determinate sphere in which his 
powers and sensations are allowed, within which they may be 
freely exercised, but beyond which he cannot pass. Each 
countenance is, indeed, subject to momentary change, though 
not perceptible, even in its solid parts ; but these changes are 
all proportionate : each is measured, each proper, and peculiar 
to the countenance in which it takes place. The capability of 
change is limited. Even that which is affected, assumed, imi- 
tated, heterogeneous, still has the properties of the individual, 


originating in the nature of the whole, and is so definite that 
it is only possible in this, but in no other being. 

I almost blush to repeat this in the present age. What,* 
posterity, wilt thou suppose, thus to see me obliged so often 
to demonstrate, to pretended sages, that nature makes no 
emendations ? She labours from one to all. Hers is not dis- 
jointed organization ; not mosaic work. The more of the 
mosaic there is in the works of artists, orators, or poets, the 
less are they natural ; the less do they resemble the copious 
streams of the fountain; the stem extending itself to the 
remotest branch. 

The more there is of progression, the more is there ot 
truth, power, and nature : the more extensive, general, durable 
and noble, is the effect. The designs of nature are the designs 
of a moment. One form, one spirit, appear through the whole. 
Thus nature forms her least plant, and thus her most exalted 
man. I shall have effected nothing by my physiognomonical 
labours if I am not able to destroy that opinion, so tasteless, 
so unworthy of the age, so opposite to all sound philosophy, 
that nature patches up the features of various countenances, 
in order to make one perfect countenance ; and I shall think 
them well rewarded if the congeniality, uniformity, and agree- 
ment of human organization, be so demonstrated that he who 
shall deny it will be declared to deny the light of the sun at 
noon day. 

The human body is a plant ; each part has the character of 
the stem. Suffer me to repeat this continually, since this 
most evident of all things is continually controverted, among 
all ranks of men, in words, deeds, books, and works of art. 

It is therefore that I find the greatest incongruities in the 
heads of the greatest masters. I know no painter of whom I 
can say he has thoroughly studied the harmony of the human 
outline, not even Poussin ; no, not even Raphael himself. 
Let any one class the forms of their countenances, and com- 
pare them with the forms of nature j let him for instance draw 
the outlines of their foreheads, and endeavour to find similar 
outlines in nature, and he will find incongruities which could 
not have been expected in such great masters 


Excepting the too great length and extent, particularly of 
his human figures, Chodowiecki, perhaps, had the most exact 
feeling of congeniality,- — in caricature ; that is to say, of the 
relative propriety of the deformed, the humorous, or other 
characteristical members and features ; for as there is con- 
formity and congeniality in the beautiful, so is there also in 
the deformed. Every cripple has the distortion peculiar to 
himself, the effects of which are extended to his whole body. 
In like manner, the evil actions of the evil, and the good 
actions of the good, have a conformity of character ; at least 
they are all tinged with this conformity of character. Little 
as this seems to be remarked by poets and painters, still is 
it the foundation of their art ; for wherever emendation is 
visible, there admiration is at an end. Why has no painter 
yet been pleased to place the blue eye beside the brown one ? 
Yet, absurd as this would be, no less absurd are the incon- 
gruities continually encountered by the physiognomonical eye. 
— The nose of Venus on the head of a Madonna .—I have 
been assured, by a man of fashion, that, at a masquerade, he, 
with only the aid of an artificial nose, entirely concealed him- 
self from the knowledge of all his acquaintance. So much 
does nature reject what does not appertain to herself. 

To render this indisputable, let a number of shades be 
taken, and classed according to the foreheads. We will show 
in its place, that all real and possible human foreheads may be 
classed under certain signs, and that their classes are not 
innumerable. Let him next class the noses, then the chins ; 
then let him compare the signs of the noses and foreheads ; 
and he will find certain noses are never found with certain 
foreheads ; and, on the contrary, other certain foreheads are 
always accompanied by a certain kind of noses ; and .that the 
same observation is true with respect to every other feature of 
the face, unless the moveable features should have something 
acquired which is not the work of the first formation and pro- 
ductive power of nature, but of art, of accident, of constraint : 
experiment will render this indisputable. As a preliminary 
amusement for the inquiring reader, I shall add what follows. 

Among a hundred circular foreheads, in profile, I have never 


yet met with one Roman nose. In a hundred other square 
foreheads I have scarcely found one in which there were not 
cavities and prominences. I never yet saw a perpendicular 
forehead, with strongly-arched features, in the lower part of 
the countenance, the double chin excepted. 

I meet no strong-bowed eyebrows /— * <•"> combined with 
bony perpendicular countenances. 

Wherever the forehead is projecting, so, in general, are the 
under lips, children excepted. 

I have never seen gently arched, yet much retreating fore- 
heads, combined with a short snub nose, which, in profile, is 
sharp and sunken. 

A visible nearness of the nose to the eye is always attended 
by a visible wideness between the nose and mouth. 

A long covering of the teeth, or, in other words, a long 
space between the nose and mouth, always indicates small 
upper lips. Length of form and face is generally attended by 
well-drawn, fleshy lips. I have many further observations in 
reserve on this subject, which only are withheld till further 
confirmation and precision are obtained. I shall produce but 
one more example, which will convince all who possess acute 
physiognomonical sensation, how great is the harmony of all 
nature's forms, and how much she hates the incongruous. 

Take two, three, or four shades of men, remarkable for 
understanding, join the features so artificially that no defect 
shall appear, as far as relates to the act of joining ; that is, 
take the forehead of one, add the nose of a second, the mouth 
of a third, the chin of a fourth, and the result of this combi- 
nation of the signs of wisdom shall be folly. Folly is perhaps 
nothing more than the annexation of some heterogeneous 
addition. — " But let these four wise countenances be supposed 
congruous V — Let them so be supposed, or as nearly so as pos- 
sible, still their combination will produce the signs of folly. 

Those, therefore, who maintain that conclusion cannot be 
drawn from a part, from a single section of a profile, to the 
whole, would be perfectly right if unarbitrary nature patched 
up countenances like arbitrary art ; but so she does not. In- 
deed, when a man, being born with understanding, becomes a 


fool, there expression of heterogeneousness is the consequence. 
Either the lower part of the countenance extends itself, or the 
eyes acquire a direction not conformable to the forehead, the 
mouth cannot remain closed, or the features of the countenance, 
in some other manner, lose their consistency. All becomes 
discord ; and folly, in such a countenance, is very manifest. If 
the forehead be seen alone it can only be said, " So much can, 
or could, this countenance, by nature, unimpeded by accident." 
But, if the whole be seen, the past and present general cha- 
racter may be determined. 

Let him who would study physiognomy study the relation of 
the constituent parts of the countenance : not having studied 
these he has studied nothing. 

He, and he alone, is an accurate physiognomist, has the true 
spirit of physiognomy, who possesses sense, feeling, and sympa- 
thetic proportion of the congeniality and harmony of nature ; 
and who hath a similar sense and feeling for all emendations 
and additions of art and constraint. He is no physiognomist 
who doubts of the propriety, simplicity, and harmony of nature ; 
or who has not this physiognomonical essential ; who supposes 
nature selects members, to form a whole, as a compositor in a 
printing-house does letters to make up a word ; who can sup- 
pose the works of nature are the patchwork of a harlequin 
jacket. Not the most insignificant of insects is so compounded, 
much less the most perfect of organized beings — man. He re- 
spires not the breath of wisdom who doubts of this progression, 
continuity, and simplicity of the structures of nature. He wants 
a general feeling for the works of nature, consequently of art, 
the imitator of nature. I shall be pardoned this warmth. It 
is necessary. The consequences are infinite, and extend to all 
things. He has the master-key of truth who has this sensation 
of the congeniality of nature, and by necessary induction of the 
human form. 

All imperfection in works of art, productions of the mind, 
moral actions, errors in judgment ; all scepticism, infidelity, 
and ridicule of religion, naturally originate in the want of this 
knowledge and sensation. He soars above all doubt of the 
IMvinity and Christ who hath them, and who is conscious of this 


congeniality. He also who, at first sight, thoroughly under- * 
stands and feels the congeniality of the human form, and that 
from the want of this congeniality arises the difference ob- 
served between the works of nature and of art, is superior to 
all doubt concerning the truth and divinity of the human 

Those who have this sense, this feeling, call it what you 
please, will attribute that only, and nothing more, to each 
countenance which it is capable of receiving. They will con- 
sider each according to its kind, and will as little seek to add 
a heterogeneous character as a heterogeneous nose to the face. 
Such will only unfold what nature is desirous of unfolding, give 
what nature is capable of receiving, and take away that with 
which nature would not be encumbered. They will perceive in 
the child, pupil, friend, or wife, when any discordant trait of 
character makes its appearance, and will endeavour to restore 
the original congeniality, the equilibrium of character and im- 
pulse, by acting upon the still remaining harmony, by co-ope- 
rating with the yet unimpaired essential powers. They will 
consider each sin, each vice, as destructive of this harmony ; 
will feel how much each departure from truth, in the human 
form, at least to eyes more penetrating than human eyes are, 
must be manifest, must distort, and must become displeasing 
to the Creator, by rendering it unlike his image. Who, there- 
fore, can judge better of the works and actions of man, who 
less offend, or be offended, who more clearly develoji cause and 
effect, than the physiognomist, possessed of a full portion of 
this knowledge and sensation ? 



Fig. 1. — This outline, from a bust of Cicero, appears to me 
an almost perfect model of congeniality. The whole has the 
character of penetrating acuteness ; an extraordinary, though 
not a great profile. All is acute, all is sharp — discerning, 
searching, less benevolent than satirical, elegant, conspicuous, 


subtle. Often disposed to contemn, and imagines it has an 
inherent right so to contemn. 

Fig. 2. — Another congenial countenance ; too evidently na- 
ture for it to be ideal, or the invention and composition of art. 
Such a forehead does not betoken the rectilinear but the nose 
thus bent. Such an upper lip, such an open, eloquent mouth. 
The forehead does not lead us to expect high poetical genius ; 
but acute punctuality, and the stability of retentive memory. 
It is impossible to suppose this a common countenance. 

Fig. 3. — The forehead and nose not congenial. The nose 
shows the very acute thinker. The lower part of the forehead, 
on the contrary, especially the distance between the eyebrow 
and eye, do not betoken this high degree of mental power. 
The stiff position of the whole is much at variance with the eye 
and mouth, but particularly with the nose. — The whole, the 
eyebrow excepted, speaks a calm, peaceable, mild character. 

Fig. 4. — Strongly impressed with the character of truth ; 
all is exact, all harmonious ; a plenitude of activity, of nume- 
rous talents. — Between the eyebrows, only, is there something 
foreign, empty, insipid. The eyebrows, likewise, are too weak, 
too indefinite, in this, otherwise, strong countenance, the power 
and fortitude of which might easily degenerate into vanity and 

Fig. 5. — The harmony of the mouth and nose is self-evident. 
The forehead is too good, too comprehensive, for this very 
limited under part of the countenance. — The whole bespeaks 
a harmless character ; nothing delicate, nor severe. 

Fig. 6. — From one true feature in the countenance the ac- 
curate physiognomist will be able to mend and define the false 
and half true. Here, for example, the forehead corresponds 
with the hair and the chin ; but I suspect more small wrinkles 
about the eyes, the upper eyelid to be much better defined, 
and prominent, in nature ; every part of the countenance less 
minute ; the mouth, in particular, neither so close, nor so ob- 
lique. — Still we here perceive a man who can more easily sport 
with us than we with him, and in whose presence the crooked 
heart would be liable to very uneasy sensations. 

Fig. 7. — We have here a high, bold forehead, with a short- 


seeming, blunt nose, and a fat double chin. How do these 
harmonize ! — It is almost a general law of nature that, where 
the eyes are strong drawn, and the eyebrows near, the eye- 
brows must also be strong. — This countenance, merely by its 
harmony, its prominent congenial traits, is expressive of sound, 
clear understanding : it is the countenance of reason. 

Fig. 8. — A master-piece of congeniality — replete with calm 
activity, tranquil energy, breathing the spirit of a better world. 
Seldom are tranquillity and power thus intimately combined. 

Fig. 9. — The under lip manifestly does not harmonize with 
the mouth and eye. The eye has much more gentleness than 
the mouth. — A nose thus drawn, so broad and short, denotes 
a sound natural understanding. 

Fig. 10. — If any man has never seen congeniality, he may 
certainly behold it here. — Compare the outline of the back 
part of the head with the forehead, the forehead with the 
mouth. — The same spirit of harshness, rudeness, and stupid 
asperity, is apparent in the traits, individually, as well as in the 
countenance altogether. — How might such a forehead have a 
fine, retreating under lip, or a strong and extended back of 
the head I 

Fig. 11. — A mild, yielding character appears in the outline 
of the forehead, the eye, and the middle line of the mouth, 
which, however, has some error in drawing, and is, conse- 
quently, heterogenous to the other features ; as is, also, the 
tip of the nose. The eye-bones ought to be some trifle sharper. 

Fig. 12. — The perfect countenance of a politician. Faces 
which are thus pointed from the eyes to the chin always have 
lengthened noses, and never possess large, open, powerful, and 
piercing eyes. Their firmness partakes of obstinacy, and they 
rather follow intricate plans than the dictates of common sense. 


Shades are the weakest, most vapid, but, at the same time, 
when the light is at a proper distance, and falls properly on 
the countenance to take the profile accurately, the truest re- 
presentation that can be given of man. — The weakest, for it 


is not positive, it is only something negative, only the boun- 
dary line of half the countenance. The truest, because it is 
the immediate expression of nature, such as not the ablest 
painter is capable of drawing, by hand, after nature. 

What can be less the image of a living man than a shade ? 
Yet how full of speech ! Little gold, but the purest. 

The shade contains but one line ; no motion, light, colour, 
height or depth ; no eye, ear, nostril or cheek ; but a very small 
part of the lip ; yet how decisively is it significant ! The reader 
soon shall judge, be convinced, and exercise his judgment. 

Drawing and painting, it is probable, originated in shades. 

They express, as I have said, but little ; but the little they 
do express is exact. No art can attain to the truth of the 
shade, taken with precision. 

Let a shade be taken after nature, with the greatest accu- 
racy, and, with equal accuracy, be afterwards reduced, upon 
fine transparent oil paper. Let a profile, of the same size, 
be taken, by the greatest master, in his happiest moment ; 
then let the two be laid upon each other, and the difference 
will immediately be evident. 

I have often made the experiment, but never found that the 
best efforts of art could equal nature, either in freedom, or in 
precision ; but that there was always something more or less 
than nature. 

Nature is sharp and free : whoever studies sharpness more 
than freedom will be hard, and whoever studies freedom more 
than sharpness will become diffuse, and indeterminate. 

I can admire him only who, equally studious of her sharp- 
ness and freedom, acquires equal certainty and impartiality. 

To attain this, artist, imitator of humanity ! first exercise 
yourself in drawing shades ; afterwards copy them by hand ; 
and, next, compare and correct. Without this, you will with 
difficulty discover the grand secret of uniting precision and 

I have collected more physiognomonical knowledge from 
shades alone than from every other kind of portrait ; have 
improved physiognomonical sensation more by the sight of 
them, than by the contemplation of ever mutable nature. 


Shades collect the distracted attention, confine it to an out- 
line, and thus render the observation more simple, easy, and 
precise. — The observation, consequently the comparison. 

Physiognomy has no greater, more incontrovertible certainty 
of the truth of its object than that imparted by shade. 

If the shade, according to the general sense and decision of 
all men, can decide so much concerning character, how much 
more must the living body, the whole appearance, and action 
of the man ! If the shade be oracular, the voice of truth, the 
word of God, what must the living original be, illuminated by 
the spirit of God ! 

Hundreds have asked, hundreds will continue to ask, " What 
can be expected from mere shades?" Yet no shade can be 
viewed by any one of these hundred who will not form some 
judgment on it, often accurately, more accurately than I could 
have judged. 

To render the astonishing significance of shades conspicu- 
ous, we ought either to compare opposite characters of men, 
taken in shade ; or, which may be more convincing, to cut out 
of black paper, or draw, imaginary countenances widely dis- 
similar : or, again, when we have acquired some proficiency 
in observation, to double black paper, and cut two counte- 
nances ; and, afterwards, by cutting with the scissors, to 
make slight alterations, appealing to our eye, or physiogno- 
monical feeling, at each alteration ; or, lastly, only to take 
various shades of the same countenance, and compare them 
together. We shall be astonished, by such experiments, to 
perceive what great effects are produced by slight alterations. 

In our next fragment we shall present the reader with a 
number of shades, and inquire into their signification. 

•A previous word concerning the best mode of taking 

The common method is accompanied with many inconve- 
niences. It is hardly possible the person drawn should sit 
sufficiently still ; the designer is obliged to change his place, 
he must approach so near to the persons that motion is almost 
inevitable, and the designer is in the most inconvenient posi- 


tion ; neither are the preparatory steps every where possible, 
nor simple enough. _ , 

A seat purposely contrived would be more convenient. 1 he 
shade should be taken on post paper, or rather on thin oiled 
paper, well dried. Let the head and back be supported by a 
chair, and the shade fall on the oil paper behind a clear, flat, 
polished glass. Let the drawer sit behind the glass, holding 
the frame with his left hand, and, having a sharp black-lead 
pencil, draw with the right. The glass in a detached slidmg- 
frame, maybe raised, or lowered, according to the height ot 
the person. The bottom of the glass frame, being thm, will 
be best of iron, and should be raised so as to rest steadily 
upon the shoulder. In the centre, upon the glass, should be 
a small, piece of wood, or iron, to which fasten a small round 
cushion, supported by a short pin, scarcely half an inch long, 
which, also, may be raised, or lowered, and against which the 
person may lean. 

The drawing annexed, Plate XXV., will render this de- 
scription more intelligible. 

By the aid of a magnifying lens, or solar microscope, the 
outlines may be much more accurately determined and drawn. 


Not all, often very much, often but little, can be discovered 
of the character of a man from his shade. 

I mean to insert a number of shades, that I may thereby 
render intelligible what may be concluded from such mere out- 
lines of the human countenance, sometimes with certainty, 
sometimes with probability. _ _ 

The progress of human opinion is ever in the extreme ; it is 
all affirmative, or all negative. _ 

But not so. AH cannot be seen m the shade, yet something 
may ._Not all; that is to say, not by man, bounded as are his 
faculties. I will not pretend to determine what might be the 
conclusions of a superior Being from the outline to the inward 
man ; the figure, elasticity, fire, power, motion, life, in the 
nose, mouth, eye; or how perfectly such a Being might under- 



stand the whole character, with all its actual and possible 
passions. I am far from thinking this must surpass His powers, 
since part of this may be attained by men of the commonest 
faculties. Proofs shall presently be given. 

True it is that, with respect to many shades, we (I at least) 
cannot determine any thing, even when they happen to be the 
shades of extraordinary persons. But of all these extraordi- 
nary persons, whose characters are not distinct in shade, it 
may be remarked that — 

Seen only in shade they will neither appear foolish, when 
possessed of great wisdom, nor wicked, if highly virtuous. All 
that can be alleged is, we do not affirmatively read what they 
are. Either — 

What is extraordinary in the character is as little apparent 
as in the shade ! or — 

It may be known to a few confidential friends, but is not 
prominent, not obvious ; or again — 

By a thousand fortunate incidental circumstances, a man, 
possessed of very moderate talents, may act, write, speak, or 
suffer, so as to appear extraordinary, although, in reality, he 
is not so ; a case which often occurs, occasions much error, 
and is, or rather seems to be, very inimical to physiognomy as 
a science. Of this I could produce many examples : but ex- 
amples might offend, and I should most unwillingly give 
offence in a work, the very purport of which is to promote 

It is also possible that those traits which, in shade, might 
betoken the extraordinary qualities of the man, and which, 
in themselves, so nearly approach the overstrained and the 
foolish, are either too inaccurately, or too prominently drawn. 
There are countenances, the shades of which, if but a hair- 
breadth more sharp, flat, or blunt, than nature, lose all they 
possess most marking, and acquire a false and foreign cha- 
racter. The most delicate, beautiful, angelic countenances 
generally lose, through the slightest neglect in taking their 
shades, that which in every judgment constitutes their su- 
preme simplicity, their upright worth. — Something is enlarged, 
or something is diminished. 


It is also possible that pock-marks, pimples, or other acci- 
dents may so indent, swell, or distort a fine outline, that the 
true character of the countenance either cannot accurately or 
not at all be defined. 

Yet it is undeniable, and shall be made evident by example 
to the lover of truth, that numberless countenances are so 
characterized, even by shades, that nothing can be more cer- 
tain than the signification of these shades. 

I pledge myself to produce two imaginary shades, the one 
of which shall excite general abhorrence, and the other confi- 
dence and love equally general. — Opposite as Christ and 

But to the question. 

What characters are most conspicuous in shade ? What is 
most precisely and clearly shown in shade ? 
A fragment of an answer. 

Shades must necessarily mark the characters of the very 
angry and the very mild ; the very obstinate, and the very 
pliable ; of the profound or the superficial, that is to say, ge- 
nerally speaking, of extremes. 

Pride and humility are more prominent, in shade, than 

Natural benevolence, internal power, flexibility, peculiar 
sensibility, and especially, infantine innocence, are expressive 
in shade. 

Great understanding, rather than great stupidity; profound 
thought, much better than clearness of conception. 

Creative powers, rather than acquired knowledge ; especially 
in the outline of the forehead, and the eye bones. 

Let us now proceed to a few remarks on shades, and the 
manner in which they ought to be observed, which must ne- 
cessarily be preceded by the classification of such lines as 
usually define and limit the human countenance. 

Perpendicular; the perpendicular expanded; compressed; 
projecting; retreating; straight lines ; flexible; arched; con- 
tracted ; waving ; sections of circles ; of parabolas ; hyperbo- 
las; concave; convex; broken; angular; compressed; ex- 
tended ; opposed ; homogeneous ; heterogeneous ; contrasted. 


How purely may all these be expressed by shades ; and how 
various, certain, and precise, is their signification ? 

We may observe in every shade nine principal horizontal 
sections : — 

1 . The arching from the top of the head to the beginning 
of the hair. 

2. The outline of the forehead to the eyebrows. 

3. The space between the eyebrow and the insertion of 
the nose. 

4. The nose to the upper lip. 

5. The upper lip. 

6. The lips proper. 

7. The upper chin. 
■ 8. The under chin. 

9. The neck. 

To these may be added the back of the head and neck. 

Each part of these sections is often a letter, often a syllable, 
often a word, often a whole discourse, proclaiming nature's 

When all these sections harmonize, character is legible to 
the peasant, to the very child, from the mere shade : the more 
they are in contrast to each other, the more difficult is the 
character to decipher. 

Each profile which consists but of one kind of lines, as for 
example, of concave, or convex ; straight or crooked, is cari- 
cature, or monstrous. The proportionate, the gentle inter- 
mingling of different lines form the most beautiful and excellent 

We ought to remark, in the whole shade, the proportions of 
length and breadth in the countenance. 

Well-proportioned profiles are equal in length and breadth. 
A horizontal line drawn from the tip of the nose to the back 
of the bald head, when the head neither projects forward nor 
sinks backward, is, generally, equal to the perpendicular line 
from the highest point of the top of the head to where the 
chin and neck separate. 

Remarkable deviations from this rule always appear to be 
either very fortunate, or very unfortunate, anomalies. 


This measurement and comparison of the height and breadth 
of the naked head may be most easily performed by the shade. 

If the head be longer than broad, and the outline hard and 
angular, it betokens excessive obstinacy : if, on the contrary, 
the outline be more lax and rounded, excess of lethargy. 

If the head, measured after the same manner, be broader 
than long, and with a hard, strong, angular, contracted out- 
line, it denotes the height of implacability, generally accompa- 
nied by malignity ; but if, with this greater breadth, the out- 
lines are lax and flexible, sensuality, pliability, indolence, the 
height of voluptuousness. 

To mention one thing more, out of a hundred which may be 
added, on this subject, but which require further preparation, 
and some of which will find a place in the following examples, 
the shade, generally, expresses much more of original propen- 
sity than actual character. The second and third sections, 
oftenest, and with most certainty, denote the power of the 
understanding, and of action and passion in man ; the nose, 
taste, sensibility, and feeling; the lips, mildness and anger, 
love and hatred ; the chin, the degree and species of sensu- 
ality ; the neck, combined with its hinder part, and position, 
the flexibility, contraction, or frank sincerity of the character ; 
the crown of the head, not so much the power, as the richness, 
of the understanding ; and the back of the head the mobility, 
irritability, and elasticity. 

How little, yet, how much, has been said ! How little, for 
him who seeks amusement; how much, for the man of re- 
search, who has will, and ability, to examine for himself, who 
can confirm, define, and proceed ! It is now time, by nume- 
rous examples, to prove some things that have been said, and 
repeat others, that they may be rendered more intelligible, 
evident, and certain. 




Fig. 1. — From a section of this forehead, singly considered, 
without the top and back of the head, something excellent 
might be expected ; so difficult is it to discriminate between 
this and the best built foreheads. But, as soon as the whole 
is taken collectively, all expectation of great powers of mind 
will vanish, and we must content ourselves with discovering, in 
this head of mediocrity, incapable of profound research, or 
great productions, a degree of benevolence, not very active, 
and inoffensive patience. 

Fig. 2. — The weakest, and the most benevolent, cannot but 
remark that this worthy man has some phlegmatic, gross sen- 
suality, with which he is obliged to contend ; neither will we 
be so unjust as to expect any deep research ; yet must I entreat 
that the good which is here bestowed by nature may not be 
overlooked. Let the upper and under part of this, perhaps ill- 
drawn, countenance be covered, and the middle will discover a 
degree of capability, information, cultivation, and taste, supe- 
rior to the rest. It is highly probable that, were it not for the 
predominant inclination to indolence, such a profile might be- 
come an orator, or a poet, and certainly a man of wit. 

Fig. 3. — A good, but circumscribed countenance, incapable 
of any high or profound exercise of the understanding. With- 
out being stupid, the forehead, scarcely, could be more flat, 
unproductive, or contracted. The nose, alone, has capacity. 
The under part of the countenance is as determinate, and 
speaks the same language, as the upper. The whole narrow 
and confused. A propensity to, and a want of, the aid of 

Fig. 4. — Some degrees more capacious and powerful than 
the foregoing. Equal benevolence, more of religion, a greater 
promptitude to business, and desire of information. Peculiar 
and active penetration is not to be expected from such coun- 


Fig. 5. — I cannot discover a superiority of talents, or genius, 
in this honest, worldly countenance, full of respectable utility. 
Cover the evidently shortened upper lip, and neither stupidity 
nor folly, but only an unproductive capacity of learning, re- 
membering, and understanding common things, will be deci- 
sively seen. 

Fig. 6. — Who, in the under part of this profile, could read 
the father of children, some of them intelligent, and some 
extraordinary? — A man of great powers, sincere humanity, 
incapable of the beautiful ; having once determined, difficult to 
move ; in other things, far from the character of insensibility ; 
wanting powers, in my apprehension, for the fine arts; but 
cheerful, ardent, faithful, and very choleric. 

Fig. 7. — The arching of the forehead almost perfectly effe- 
minate ; manly only in the small circle over the eye ; where, be 
it here remarked, all effeminate or manly foreheads are most 
distinguished. (The effeminate outline is ever the simplest ; 
the manly is either much more rectilinear, contracted, or, as 
in the annexed plate, less further back : if arched, is inter- 
rupted, indented, and has, commonly, two sections.) Bene- 
volent, generous, a disregard of existence, alive to honour, and 
its rewards, to his own sufferings, and the sufferings of others ; 
such is this profile. 

Fig. 8. — Whoever will search for manly, simple fidelity, in 
one perfect whole ; a sound and exquisite sense of truth, with- 
out the trouble of inquiry, a tender, innate, firm, sincere love, 
combined with resolution, manhood, and candour; let them 
contemplate this countenance. 

Fig. 9. — The nose, manifestly too pointed, gives this profile 
the appearance of insignificant, childish fear. The nose, com- 
pared with the forehead, convinces us it is inaccurate ; the 
nose is childishly effeminate, while the forehead would never 
be found in a female. It is not of the first order, though it is 
something more than common. The projecting eye denotes 
fear and choler ; the mouth and chin extreme prudence, be- 
nevolence, and gentleness. Nature ever gives a counterpoise> 
and delights to mingle mildness and fire in a wonderful 


Fig. 10. — The forehead is not drawn with accuracy, yet it 
shows a man of a clear and sound understanding, determined 
in the pursuit of business. The nose is of a superior kind, 
and, apart from the other features, has every capacity of ex- 
cellent and just sensation. — The under part shows common 
manliness and resolution. 

Fig. 11. — I do not think we have a peculiarly great head 
here, yet certainly not a very common one. The back part is 
decisive of a richly comprehensive, and not irresolute thinker. 
No single feature of the face has any thing determinate, yet 
each has something the reverse of rude, and all please by their 
combination. He must be a civil, peaceable, modest man ; 
desirous of learning, and capable of teaching. 

Fig. 12. — However great the resemblance of this shade 
may be supposed, it is certainly, in part, enlarged, and, in 
part, curtailed ; yet are the expansion and firmness, almost in 
equal degrees, general and congenial. The under part of the 
forehead, and the back part of the head, are injured by the 
curtailment. The upper part of the forehead, and nose, de- 
note much less dryness, and more sensibility and capacity. 

Fig. 13.— One of those masculine profiles which generally 
please. Conceal the under chin, and an approach to greatness 
is perceptible ; except that greater variation in the outline is 
wanting, especially in the nose, and forehead. The choleric, 
phlegmatic man is visible in the whole ; especially, in the eye- 
brows, nose, and lower part of the chin ; as likewise are inte- 
grity, fidelity, goodness, and complaisance. 

Fig. 14. — The forehead not sharp enough, yet rich in me- 
mory and prudence. This practical wisdom, this thoughtful 
calculation, is also conspicuous in the under part of the profde. 
The extension, the length, of the upper lip (the 'pallium of the 
teeth) to the nose, on the contrary, betoken thoughtless indis- 
cretion. Wherever the forehead retreats so little back, upon 
the whole, it is never productive, but so much the more per- 
ceptive. Thoughtlessness should come for advice to such 
countenances ; they are magazines of reflection derived from 

Fig. 15. — A singular, wonderfully harmonized countenance. 


How remarkably congenial are the forehead and nose, especi- 
ally ! Nothing too sharp, nothing unnaturally flat, expanded, 
or contracted. — I suppose a dry, firm, thoughtful, subtle, 
penetrating, not analyzing, phlegmatic, sometimes desperate, 
and a generally brave character 

Fig. 16. — Mild complaisance, forbearance, mature conside- 
ration, calm activity, composure, sound understanding, power 
of thought, discerning attention, secretly active friendship, are 
the decisive traits of this, to me, well-known original ; all of 
which, if they are not instantaneously discoverable, will be 
seen as soon as mentioned. No section of the outline contains 
any thing contradictory to this judgment. The forehead and 
back of the head are, of themselves, decisive of calm conside- 
ration and discretion. Benevolence and tranquillity are uni- 
versal ; particularly in the under parts. One of the most 
faithful, calm, cheerful, and most contented of men. Alike 
happy and satisfied with his congregation as with his garden, 
cultivated by himself, for his own use, and that of his friends. 


Fig. 1. — An original countenance, that will, to hundreds, 
speak sensibility, timidity, perspicuity, wit, and imagination. 
Not to be numbered among the strong, bold, unshaken, and 
enterprising ; but very considerate, cautious to timidity ; a 
countenance which often says much with a cold, yet excellent 

Fig. 2. — A man of business, with more than common abili- 
ties. Undoubtedly possessed of talents, punctual honesty, love 
of order, and deliberation. An acute inspector of men ; a calm, 
dry, determined judge. I do not know the man, not even so 
much as by name ; but, to the middle of the mouth, is an 
advancing trait, which speaks superiority in common affairs. 

Fig. 3. — A good head. — Cannot be mistaken, not even in 
shade. Conceal the under part, and leave only the nose and 
forehead visible, and signs of attention, love of order, and 
certainty, are apparent. The forehead, altogether, is too per- 
pendicular for a productive mind. — The acute, the cheerful, 
the subtle, uncultivated wit of the original is difficult to be 


discovered in this shade ; yet the outline of the lips gives 
reason to suspect these qualities. 

Fig. 4. — Those who have never studied the man, and men 
in general but little, still cannot but respect this profile ; 
although the forehead is not so entirely exact and pure as 
to discover the whole capacity of his understanding. The 
harmony of the whole, especially the nose, mouth, and chin, 
denote a mind of extraordinary observation, research, and 

Fig. 5. — A noble forehead, a miracle of purity, the love of 
order, I might say, the love of light. — Such the nose, such is 
all. How capable of cultivation must such a profile be ! I 
am unacquainted with the man, yet am I certain as that I live, 
that he is capable of the calmest examination, that he feels 
the necessity of, and delights in, clear conceptions, and that 
he must be an attentive observer. 

Fig. 6. — Much is to be learnt from this shade. — Takes 
little, gives much ; this is particularly conspicuous in the too 
round outline of the lips, which is most defective. The most 
delicate lines have either not been remarked, or cut away. 
The upper part of the forehead is, also, something curtailed ; 
otherwise this countenance is refined, discreet, capable of 
talents, taste, wit, and morals. 

Fig. 7. — Thus ought a man to look, but not a woman, who 
reads, but is not easily read. By strength restrained, exact- 
ness, mild fortitude, and disinterestedness, I would undertake 
to conquer, and even to lead, this otherwise irascible character, 
on whom a man may rely, after having granted his confidence, 
with circumspection. I am unacquainted with the person, but 
dare affirm that, if foolish, there is, still, a capability of wisdom. 

Fig. 8. — Not angry impetuosity, not violent outrage, scan- 
dalous censoriousness, or malignant intrigue, are discoverable 
in this shade ; on the contrary, each feature, as well as the 
whole countenance, speaks gentleness, beneficence, delicate 
feelings, excellent taste, not very productive, but capable of 
. information, and great urbanity. 

Fig. 9. — Happy tranquillity ; noble, calm, clear perceptions 
of the present ; a just and profound estimate of the thing con- 


sidered ; artless eloquence, cheerfulness, easy frankness, dis- 
cretion, verging to inoffensive cunning, astonishing capabilities 
for business, endear this countenance to every friend. How 
summarily, how beautifully, do the aspect and attitude denote 
friendly expression ! 

Fig. 10. — A profile rich in talents, uniting much taste with 
the finest dexterity of art. The ill-cut upper lip excepted, it 
is impossible for a physiognomonical eye to mistake this speak- 
ing shade. None who have studied men would wonder should 
we write under this, a good musician, miniature painter, or 
surveyor; or a companion equally pleasant and intelligent. 
Forehead, nose, chin, and general form, denote a mind capable 
of high cultivation, and a sense of the beautiful. 

Fig. 11 to 14. — Four profiles of men of known excellence, 
and evidently such in their profiles: 11, Mendelssohn; 12, 
Spalding; 13, Rochow; 14, Nikolai. 

Exact or not, who will suppose any one of these stupid ? — 
Whoever hesitates concerning 14, never can have observed the 
forehead. — This arch, abstractedly considered, especially in the 
upper part, has more capacity than 12 and 13. In the upper 
outline, also, of the under part, understanding and exquisite 
penetration cannot be overlooked. 

13. Has more good sense ; prompt, accurate perception of 
truth, delicacy ; but, I suspect, less acuteness. 

12. Clear ideas, love of elegance, purity, accuracy of thought 
and action ; does not easily admit the unnatural. — The fore- 
head not sufficiently characteristic, but fine taste in the nose. 

In the forehead and nose of 11, penetration and sound under- 
standing are evident. — The mouth is much more delicate than 
the mouth in 12. 


Fig. 1. — A well-proportioned countenance. The outline of 
this forehead is deficient in penetration ; or, as I may with 
greater propriety say, the almost unerring penetration of the 
original is wanting. The shade has likewise an air of import- 
ance, of self-complacency, which is as distant from the modesty 
of the man as heaven is from earth. The heart ever open to 



the reception of truth. With persevering activity it combines 
great taste ; or, if you please, a strong sense of the beautiful. 
— Irritable, but will ever act with discretion, nobly. — In the 
lower part of the countenance, especially the lips, goodness and 
manly strength are alike conspicuous. Easily induced to the 

Fig. 2. — One of the most original heads I have ever beheld. 
— A singular genius, but incapable of research and retention. — 
Fluctuating ; quick to perceive and to forsake ; great elo- 
quence united with little precision ; much wit, and equal sen- 
suality, in the nose : a spirit of daring enterprise, without 
determinate power, in the whole countenance. 

Fig. 3. — A princely countenance — impressing pleasure at 
the first aspect. — Nothing vulgar. — If, without prompting, we 
cannot say such a countenance was drawn by the hand of God, 
of what may this be said ? — Who does not here read worth, 
nobility, and courage, so difficult to unite, yet so necessary to 
a great man ? The twofold power of concealing what should 
be concealed, and of revealing what should be revealed. Dis- 
cretion void of minute, over careful suspicion. Though we 
cannot see the eye, yet, judging by the outline of the forehead, 
and nose, the look must be rapid, certain, penetrating ; a 
dagger to the dishonourable, and a pledge of confidence to the 
worthy man. The outline of the forehead is most extraor- 
dinary, and highly characteristic of great and bold enterprise. 
The drawing of the mouth is very hard, yet it bears the stamp 
of goodness, honesty, and courage. Who also can doubt but 
that there is some mixture of voluptuousness ? 

Fig. 4. — Be it premised that this shade is cut from memory, 
and not taken from nature ; yet is it so full of truth and ex- 
pression that it must overthrow, or shake to the foundation, 
the house of cards, or the supposed rock-built palace of the 
most incredulous and obstinate of anti-physiognomists. Place 
it among a thousand shades, and it will there ever remain as 
singular as was the original among his contemporaries. Con- 
tinually do I bow before this form, as to an apparition from 
the heavenly regions ; all is one spirit, one harmony, one 
whole. How forcible is the power of the nose, or if you please 


in its minute curve ! — A countenance formed to command, not 
to obey. The rapid look thinks and acts. Who shall demand 
an account of its actions I Its will is as a rock, and conducts 
the man where millions would faulter. — It is conscious of its 
p 0wer . — Let the angle formed by the lines a and b be taken, 
and laid on thousands of countenances, yet will not a similar 
one be found. But however we are indebted to this great 
man and monarch, still are we obliged to acknowledge that 
mildness and moderation, here, are apparently acquired, not 
natural virtue. 

Fig. 5. — We shall now produce some female shades, without 
too much anticipating the future chapter on the sex. Here is 
a truly effeminate profile. It is impossible that this counte- 
nance could be male. The simplicity, continuity, and projec- 
tion of the forehead, which does not retreat, its proportion 
with the under part of the profile, also the hollowing of the 
outline of the nose, all speak female nature. The countenance 
is fruitful, cunning, active, orderly, tractable, attentive, and 

Fig. 6. — Less physical and practical power than the former, 
but more sensibility and delicacy ; more capable of enjoyment, 
more tenderness, consideration, timidity, reserve, softness; 
yielding, infirm, noble, observing, reflecting, analyzing. The 
delicate and noble are seen in the whole, particularly in the 
nose and mouth ; the weak and the tender most in the chin ; 
reflection in the forehead. 

Fig. 7. — More acute, pliable, yielding, enterprising and 
active than the foregoing. Cover the forehead, and this is 
apparent. The outline of the forehead, to the point where 
the eyebrows may be supposed, is not common ; but from this 
point to the insertion of the nose is a length and an outline 
which I am unable to comprehend : it appears to me false 
and unnatural ; it scarcely can be so long, at least, so nearly 

Fig. 8. — As these fragments are written to promote the 
knowledge and love of men, it is our duty briefly to point out 
the positive and excellent in countenances where they are not 


very conspicuous. Cover this shade with the hand, so that 
only the countenance from the forehead to the chin can be 
seen ; the expression of the profile will then be improved. 
The negligence of the person who draws a shade, who, fre- 
quently, will not be at the trouble of placing the countenance 
properly, often does it great injustice. Of this the present 
shade is a proof. Timid this character will probably ever re- 
main, as the retreating chin alone will show ; but this timidity 
is characteristic of youth and sex. But, on the reverse, it 
must be observed that ever bountiful nature has imparted 
something of pleasing courtesy to the mouth, and of mascu- 
line power to the nose, which stand as guarantees for the 

Fig. 9. — More courage, enterprise, pliability, determination, 
rational activity. The under part of the profile is least defined 
and characteristic ; but how much is this negligence compen- 
sated by the firm, intelligent, correspondent of what is above ! 
How capable are such profiles of maternal duties ! How care- 
ful, how orderly, how economical ! How respectable by their 
meekness, their gentleness ! O miraculous nature! How dost 
thou imprint truth upon all thy works, and bestow the cre- 
dentials of the powers with which they are entrusted ! 

Fig. 10. — Certainly defective, inaccurate. — Caricature, if 
any thing can be so ; but caricature, in which geniality cannot 
be mistaken. By geniality I would say original penetration ; 
a quick perception of things invisible in the visible ; facility 
of combining the rapidly discovered homogeneous; the gift 
of associating ideas. An accurate drawing of such a coun- 
tenance would be inestimable to the physiognomist. Nothing 
more need be said on this every where inaccurate profile. 

Fig. 11. — No geniality here but the mildest, most maidenly, 
circumspection ; attention, civility, obedience, simplicity ; no 
productive powers of mind : no heroism ; but patience em- 
ployed on self. A desire not to inform but to be informed. 
More passive than active ; more good sense than flight of 
fancy, or frolicksome wit. 

Fig. 12. — More mind, penetration, or acuteness, than Fig. 
1 1 ; less timid, and careful of self ; more excellent, lively, 


determinate, and analyzing. Forehead and nose discover much 
perspicuity, and ardour of understanding ; mildness, benevo- 
lence, innocence, and tranquillity in the mouth ; in the chin, 
much noble and tender effeminacy. 

Fig. 13. — Exclusive of the ill-defined forehead, there is still 
enough remaining in the nose, mouth, and the whole outline, 
to denote the fine penetrating taste of the reflective and gently 
agitated mind ; undisturbed by passions ; capable of delicate, 
religious sensibility. 

Fig. 14. — Here or nowhere are conspicuous respectable 
tranquillity, fortitude, simplicity, superiority ; a freedom from 
passion, a contempt for the mean, and a propensity to the 
natural, the noble, and the great. This countenance, though 
silent, is more eloquent than hundreds that speak. It looks 
and penetrates, has the power of forming just decisions, and, 
in a single word, to pronounce them irrevocably. 



As the author has little knowledge of beasts, he must leave 
the labour of examining them, physiognomonically, to some 
Buffon, or Kamper, of this or a future age. 

My readers will, therefore, be satisfied with a few general 
reflections, and some particular remarks, which may be further 
prosecuted by the inquiries into nature. I hope, however, that 
those few will be sufficient — 

a To confirm the general truth of physiognomy ; 

b To elucidate certain laws, according to which eternal 
Wisdom has formed living beings ; 

c And, still further to display the excellence, the sublimity 
of human nature. 

How much shall I have gained can I but, by the following 
fragment, obtain these three noble purposes : 



1. Nature is every where similar to herself. She never acts 
arbitrarily, never contrary to her laws. The same wisdom 
and power produce all varieties, agreeable to one law. one 
will. Either all things are, or nothing is, subject to law and 

2. Who can overlook the distinction between internal 
power and external form, in the three kingdoms of nature? 
Stones and metals have infinitely less internal powers of life, 
and infinitely less appearance of the motive powers of life, than 
plants or trees ; while the latter have infinitely less tlian ani- 
mals. — Each stone, each mineral, plant, tree, animal, hath, 
individually, a peculiar measure of life, and motive power ; a 
capacity of receiving and communicating impressions ; like as 
each has, individually, that peculiar external which distin- 
guishes it from all others. 

3. Therefore, for the mineralist, there is a mineral, for the 
botanist, a botanical, and for the naturalist, and the hunter, 
an animal physiognomy. 

4. What a proportionate distinction is there in power and 
appearance between the reed and the oak, the bulrush and 
the cedar, the violet and the sunflower, the mouse-ear and 
the full-blown rose! — From the smallest insect to the ele- 
phant, what proportionate difference of internal and external 
character ! 

5. Whether, with a rapid glance, we survey the kingdoms 
of nature, or examine and compare her productions, individu- 
ally, can we avoid being deeply convinced of her truth, ever 
similar to itself, and the relative harmony between internal 
powers and external forms and tokens ? 

6. Whoever has not this general perception of the general, 
the ever-present truth and language of nature, will do well to 
throw this book aside ; it can convince him of nothing, it can 
teach him nothing. 




What the great Aristotle has written on physiognomy ap- 
pears to me extremely superficial, useless, and often self-con- 
tradictory; especially his general reasoning. Still, however, 
we meet an occasional thought which deserves to be selected. 
The following are some of these, not translated according to 
the letter, but the spirit. 

" A monster has never been seen which had the form of 
another creature, and, at the same time, totally different 
powers of thinking and acting. 

" Thus, for example, the groom judges from the mere ap- 
pearance of the horse ; the huntsman from the appearance of 
the hound. 

" We find no man entirely like a beast, although there are 
some features in man which remind us of beasts. 

" If any one would endeavour to discover the signs of 
bravery in man, he would act wisely to collect all the signs of 
bravery in animated nature, by which courageous animals are 
distinguished from others. The physiognomist should then 
examine all such animated beings which are the reverse of the 
former with respect to internal character, and from the com- 
parison of these opposites, the expressions or signs of courage 
would be manifest. 

" Weak hair betokens fear, and strong hair courage. This 
observation is applicable not only to men but to beasts. The 
most fearful of beasts are the deer, the hare, and the sheep, 
and the hair of these is weaker than that of other beasts. 
The lion and wild boar, on the contrary, are the most cou- 
rageous, which property is conspicuous in their extremely 
strong hair. The same also may be remarked of birds ; for, 
in general, those among them which have coarse feathers are 
courageous, and those that have soft and weak feathers are 
fearful : quails and game cocks for examples. 

" This may easily be applied to men. The people of the 


north are generally courageous, and have strong hair ; while 
those of the west are more fearful, and have more flexible 

" Beasts remarkable for their courage, simply give their 
voices vent, without any great constraint ; while fearful beasts 
utter vehement sounds. Compare the lion, ox, the barking 
dog, and cock, which are courageous, to the deer, and the 

" The lion appears to have a more masculine character than 
any other beast. He has a large mouth, a four-cornered, not 
too bony, visage. The upper jaw does not project, but exactly 
fits the under ; the nose is rather hard than soft ; the eyes 
are neither sunken nor prominent ; the forehead is square, 
and somewhat flattened in the middle. 

" Those who have thick and firm lips, with the upper lip 
hung over the under, are simple persons, according to the 
analogy of the ass and monkey." — This is most indetermi- 
nately spoken. He would have been much more accurate and 
true, had he said, those whose under lips are weak, extended, 
and projecting, beyond the upper, are simple people. 

" Those who have the tip of the nose hard and firm, love to 
employ themselves on subjects that give them little trouble, 
similar to the cow and the ox." — Insupportable ! The few 
men who have the tip of the nose firm are the most unwearied 
in their researches. I shall transcribe no further. The phy- 
siognomonical remarks, and the similarities to beasts which he 
has produced, are generally unfounded in experience. 


After Aristotle, Porta has most observed the resemblances 
between the countenances of men and beasts, and has extended 
this inquiry the furthest. He, as far as I know, was the first 
who rendered this similarity apparent, by placing the coun- 
tenances of men and beasts beside each other. Nothing can 
be more true than this fact ; and, while we continue to follow 
nature, and do not endeavour to make such similarities greater 


than they are, it is a subject that cannot be too accurately 
examined. But, in this respect, the fanciful Porta appears to 
me to have been often misled, and to have found resemblances 
which the eye of truth never could discover. I could find no 
resemblance between the hound and Plato, at least from which 
cool reason could draw any conclusions. It is singular enough 
that he has also compared the heads of men and birds. He 
might more effectually have examined the excessive dissimi- 
larity than the very small, and almost imperceptible, resem- 
blance which can exist. He speaks little concerning the horse, 
elephant, and monkey, though it is certain that these animals 
have most resemblance to man. 



a Report makes the monkey most resemble man ; and, 
certainly, there is a kind of men who greatly resemble this 
animal, particularly about the eyes. — The two countenances 
here given are some of the most accurate compared by Porta ; 
and, if a man were really found so like a monkey, we might 
then, without all fear, ascribe to the man much of the cha- 
racter of the monkey ; a great want of faculties, feeling, and 
mind. But let us be careful not to believe too great an ap- 
proach of character, from the similarity here produced, which 
certainly is not founded in nature. The nature of man will 
ever possess unattainable advantages over that of brutes. If 
we compare, for example, the outline of the skull to the ears, 
how essentially different are the modes of arching ! How dis- 
similar are the cheeks and the chin ! 

b It cannot be doubted but that the human head, here 
annexed, has something of the ox ; though it appears to me 
rather to partake of the ox and lion, than the ox singly. The 
wrinkling of the forehead has something of the ox, but the nose 
has more of the lion ; and the middle line of the mouth is 
essentially different, not only from the ox, but from all kind9 
of beasts. The nostrils of the human countenance are also 




completely human, and have nothing characteristic of, or 
peculiar to, beast. I shall say nothing further concerning the 
chin, which is the peculiar excellence and honour of humanity. 
We must ever rejoice at the remembrance of our species, when 
we contemplate the unattainable advantages which the Author 
of our nature has imparted to humanity. 


Among a thousand million of men, where might two be 
found so resembling the brute animal ? And, even if they 
could, how immensely superior would they still be to the ox, 
deprived as the latter is of forehead, nose, chin, and back of 
the head ! The mouth in the first profile is too human for the 
exaggerated ox eye. In other respects, the countenance has 
brutal rudeness, stupid strength, immoveable obstinacy, with 
an incapacity for improvement, affection, or sensibility. 


A general difference between man and beast is particularly 
conspicuous in the structure of the bones. 

The head of man is placed erect on the spinal bone ; his 
whole form is as the foundation pillar for that arch in which 
heaven should be reflected, supporting that skull by which, like 
the firmament, it is encircled. This cavity for the brain con- 
stitutes the greatest part of the head. All our sensations, as 
I may say, ascend and descend above the jaw-bones, and collect 
themselves upon the lips. How does the eye, that most elo- 
quent of organs, stand in need, if not of words, at least, of the 
friendly co-operation, or angry constraint of the cheeks, and 
all the intervening shades, to express, or rather to stammer, 
the strong internal sensations of man ! 

How directly the reverse of this is the formation of beasts ! 
The head is only attached to the spine. The brain, the extre- 
mity of the spinal marrow, has no greater extent than is neces- 
sary for animal life, and the conducting of a creature wholly 
sensual, and formed but for temporary existence. For although 
we cannot deny that beasts have the faculty of memory, and 



act from reflection, yet the former, as I may say, is the effect of 
primary sensation, and the latter originates in the constraint of 
the moment, and the preponderance of this or that object. 

Jn the difference of the skull, which defines the character of 
animals, we may perceive, in the most convincing manner, how 
the bones determine the form, and denote the properties of the 
creature. The moveable parts are formed after, or to speak 
properly, with them ; and can act only so far as the solid parts 



The tameness of granivorous animals and beasts of burden 
is shown by the long, the pairing, and the inbent lines. For 
example, 1, the horse ; 3, the ass ; 5, the deer ; 6, the hog. 

The whole form of these heads speak calm, harmless enjoy- 
ment. The inbent lines, from the eye-bones to the nostrils, in 
1 and 3, indicate patient suffering. 

6. The slightly inbent, and as suddenly straight lines, denote 
obstinacy. We may remark in all a heavy, immoderately ex- 
tended under jaw ; and perceive how strong a desire of masti- 
cation is there seated. 

4. The skull of the ox expresses patience, resistance, diffi- 
culty of being moved, a great desire of feeding. 

Superior to all, is distinguished, 2, the elephant, by an in- 
crease of skull, alike in the back part, and the forehead. 
How true, how natural, an expression of wisdom, power and 
delicacy ! 


The form of ravenous animals is alike significant. 

3. The dog, indeed, has something common, not very strik- 
ing, but the retreating of the skull from the eye-bones speaks, 
as I may say, determinate powers of sense. The throat is 
rather that of tranquil, than cruel or ravenous appetite ; 
though it participates of both. I imagine I discover, particu- 

PLATf .1X17 

/'/../ 7 7/ .1.1.17/ 


larly m the eye-bone, and its relative proportion to the nose, 
a degree of fidelity and sincerity. 

4. Though the difference between the wolf and dog is small, 
still it is remarkable. The concavity at the top of the skull, 
the convexity above the eye-bones, the straight lines from 
thence to the nose, denote more hasty motion. The under 
jaw has likewise the stamp of malignity. 

2. Add to this, in the bear, more breadth, firmness, and 

1. I could wish the lion were better drawn ; but, in Buffon, 
from whom the engraving is copied, this fine skull is very 
indeterminate. Yet how remarkable is the lengthened, obtuse 
back of the head ! — This is not an ignoble arching. How 
rapid, how energetic is the descent of the bone of the nose .' 
How compact, strong, calm, and powerful is the fore part of 
the head ! Had we specimens, a comparison between the head 
of the lion and that of the tiger would be well worth our labour. 
How small, yet how essential are the varieties ! 

5. A word only concerning the cat. — Watchful, rapacious. 
7. The porcupine somewhat resembles the beaver, in the 

upper part of the outline, but is very different in the teeth. 

6. The hyena is very distinct from all animals, particularly 
in the back of the head. The protuberance behind denotes 
excess of inflexible obstinacy, implacability. 

Whoever contemplates the middle line of the mouth, of the 
living hyena, will there discover the character, the very index, 
of the most inexorable malignity. 


1. As the characters of animals are distinct, so are their 
forms, bones, and outlines. 

From the smallest winged insect to the eagle that soars and 
gazes at the sun, from the weakest worm, impotently crawling 
beneath our feet, to the elephant, or the majestic lion, the gra- 
dations of physiognomonical expression cannot be mistaken. 
It would be more than ridiculous to expect from the worm, 


the outterfly, and the lamb, the power of the rattle-snake, the 
eagle, and the lion. Were the lion and lamb, for the first 
time, placed before us, had we never known such animals, 
never heard their names, still we could not resist the impres- 
sion of the courage and strength of the one, or of the weak- 
ness and sufferance of the other. 

2. Which are, in general, the weakest animals, and the 
most remote from humanity ; the most incapable of human 
ideas and sensations ? — Beyond all doubt those which in their 
form least resemble man. To prove this, let us, in imagina- 
tion, consider the various degrees of animal life, from the 
smallest animalcula to the ape, lion, and elephant : and, the 
more to simplify, and give facility to such comparison, let us 
only compare head to head ; as for example, the lobster to the 
elephant, the elephant to the man. 

3. And here just suffer me to observe how worthy would 
such a work be of the united abilities of a Buffon, a Kamper, 
and a Euler, could they be found united, that the forms of 
heads might be enumerated and described philosophically and 
mathematically ; that it might be demonstrated that universal 
brutality, in all its various kinds, is circumscribed by a deter- 
minate line ; and that, among the innumerable lines of bruta- 
lity, there is not one which is not internally, and essentially 
different from the line of humanity, which is peculiar and 


" Each brute animal has some principal quality by which it 
is distinguished from all others. — As the make of each is dis- 
tinct from all others, so, likewise, is the character. This 
principal character is denoted by a peculiar, and visible form. 
Each species of beast has, certainly, a peculiar character, as it 
has a peculiar form. 

" May we not hence, by analogy, infer that predominant 
qualities of the mind are as certainly expressed by predominant 
forms of the body, as that the peculiar qualities of a species 
are expressed in the general form of that species I — The prin- 


cipal character of the species, in animals, remains such as it 
was given by nature ; it neither can be obscured by accessory 
qualities, nor concealed by art. — The essential of the character 
can as little be changed as the peculiarity of the form. 

" May we not, therefore, with the highest certainty, affirm 
such a form is only expressive of such a character ? 

" We have now to inquire if this be applicable to man, and 
whether the form which denotes individual character in a 
beast is significant of similar character in man : — granting 
that, in man, it may continually be more delicate, hidden, and 

" If, on examination, this question be definitely answered 
in the affirmative, how much is thereby gained ! 

" But it is conspicuously evident that, in man, the mind is 
not one character, or quality ; but a world of qualities, inter- 
woven with, and obscuring each other. 

" If each quality be expressed by its peculiar form, tnen 
must variety of qualities be attended with variety of forms ; 
and these forms, combining and harmonizing together, must 
become more difficult to select and decipher. 

" A quality also may have only a moiety and not the full 
power of existence, consequently, a proportionate degree of 
form, which must have a proportionate degree of expression, 
and of difficulty to decipher. Thus, for example, a man may 
have four whole, and two half qualities ; and the body, or the 
visible exterior on which such qualities are expressed, must, 
likewise, have four whole, and two half forms, for the expres- 
sion, or containing of these qualities. How much must this 
increase the difficulty of reading man ! And how seldom has 
he whole, how frequently half qualities ! 

" May not souls also differ with each other merely according 
to their relative connexion with bodies?" (Let each person 
decide for himself concerning this.) " May not souls also 
have a determinate capacity, proportionate to the form and 
organization of the body ?" (Water which takes the form of 
the vessel.) " Hence, each object may make a different impres- 
sion on each individual ; hence, one may bear greater burdens 
and more misfortunes than another. 


" May not the body be considered as a vessel with various 
compartments, cavities, pipes, into which the soul is poured, 
and in consequence of which motion and sensation begin to 
act? And thus, may not the form of the body define the 
capacity of the mind f 

Thus far, my unknown friend. — Figurative language is dan- 
gerous, when discoursing on the soul ; yet, how can we dis- 
course on it otherwise ? — I pronounce no judgment, but rely 
on sensation and experience, not on words and metaphors. 
What is is, be your language what it will. Whether effects 
all act from the external to the internal, or the reverse, I know 
not, cannot, need not know. — Experience convinces us, that, 
both in man and beast, power and form are in an unchangeable 
harmonized proportion ; but whether the form be determined 
by the power, or the power by the form, is a question wholly 
insignificant to the physiognomist. 


Few beasts have so much forehead, above the eyes, as the 
clog ; but as much as he appears to gain in the forehead he 
loses in the excess of brutal nose, which has every token of 
acute scent. Man, too, in the act of smelling, elevates the 
nostrils. The dog is also defective in the distance of the mouth 
from the nose, and in the meanness, or rather the nullity of 

Whether the hanging ears of a dog are characteristic of 
slavish subjection, as Button has affirmed, who has written 
much more reasonably on brute than on human physiognomy, I 
cannot determine. 

The camel and the dromedary are a mixture of the horse, 
sheep, and ass, without what is noble in the first. They also 
appear to have something of the monkey, at least, in the nose. 
Not made to suffer the bit in the mouth, the power of jaw is 
wanting. The determining marks concerning the bit, are 
found between the eyes and the nose. No traces of courage 
or daring are found in these parts. The threatening snort of 


the ox and horse is not perceptible in these ape-like nostrils. 
None of the powers of plunder and prey, in the feeble upper 
and under jaw. Nothing but burden-bearing patience in the 

The bear expresses wild cruelty, the menacing power of 
rending ; abhorring man, the friend of ancient, savage nature. 

The unau, ai, or sloth, is the most indolent, helpless, 
wretched creature, and of the most imperfect formation. How 
extraordinary is the feebleness of the outline of the head, 
body, and feet ! No sole of the feet, no toes small or great, 
which move independently, having but two or three long, 
'nbent claws, which can only move together. Its sluggish- 
ness, stupidity, and self-neglect, are indescribable. How might 
physiognomy be more true to the expression of nature \ How 
might it be more obtuse, sluggish, helpless ? 

Who does not read ferocity in the wild boar ; a want of all 
that is noble ; greediness, stupidity, blunt feeling, gross appe- 
tite ; and, in the badger, ignoble, faithless, malignant, savage 
gluttony ? 

The profile of the lion is remarkable, especially the outline 
of the forehead and nose. How does this outline retreat, 
almost in a right angle, from the nose to the under jaw ! 

A man whose profile of forehead and nose should resemble 
that of the lion, would, certainly, be no common man. But I 
have never yet seen any person in whom this resemblance was 

I own the nose of the lion is much less prominent than that 
of man, but much more than that of any other quadruped. 

Royal, brutal strength, and arrogant usurpation are evi- 
dent, partly in the arching of the nose, partly in its breadth 
and parallel lines, and especially in the almost right angle 
which the outline of the eyelid forms with the side of the nose. 

What blood-thirsty cruelty, what insidious craft in the eye 
and snout of the tiger ! Can the laugh of Satan himself, at a 
falling saint, be more fiendlike than the head of the triumphant 
tiger ? 

Cats are tigers in miniature, with the advantage of domes- 
tic education. Little better in character, inferior in power. 


Unmerciful to birds and mice as the tiger to the lamb. They 
delight in prolonging torture before they devour; and, in 
this, they exceed the tiger. 


Each of the following additions, each species of animal, 
demonstrates, confirms, the proposition, that all nature is 
truth and revelation. 

Were I silent, the plate annexed would, itself, speak elo- 

I particularly request that, in examining the countenances 
of beasts, peculiar attention may be paid to the proportion and 
arching of the forehead, to the position and distance of the 
eye, and still more to the line of the mouth. 

1. How distant is the sheep from the human figure ! How 
inactive, how patiently stupid ! The head, rounded at the top, 
is incapable of every thing that can be called acuteness, or 
penetration. There is as little wildness and cruelty in the line 
of the mouth as in the form and position of the teeth. 

2. The tiger, especially when seen in profile, approaches 
much nearer to the human form. Still the difference is asto- 
nishing. How much more does the most oblique, most bent 
profile, of the human form, approach the perpendicular, than 
does the profile of the tiger ! The fiery, sharp-angled eyes, 
the broad flat nose, the uninterrupted connexion of the nose, 
or rather what is analogous to the nose, with the mouth, and, 
especially, the line of the mouth, all betoken the fearfully 
brutal and the cruel. 

3. The characteristic lines w w of grinding, ravenous bru- 
tality are visible, though not strong, in the fox. The acute 
angle formed by the eye, and sharp snout, is particularly to be 

4. In the ass, impotent stupidity, helplessness, indocility. 
How much more stupid and mean than S 

6. What mistrustful timidity, listening attention, agility, in 

TV.ATF rrrm 

riATE xxxr. 

fijtk zmr: 

w mm 





the roe ! How defenceless, how immensely dissimilar to the 
tiger, and how different is the line of this mouth to that 
above ! How much more stupid and feeble ! 

6. Mean, ignoble, from the ear to the tip of the nose ; 
excess of obscene sensuality in the basis of the snout ; false- 
hood in the eyes ; malignity in the mouth. 



What majesty in the countenance of the lion ! What power ! 
How far from mean, insidious cunning, ensnaring ferocity ! — 
It is ferocity of a different kind, of conscious strength and 
superiority. In the region above the eyes appear considera- 
tion and discretion. 

2. How much more weak, insidious, and cruel, is the lioness ! 
It may be remarked that the kingly pre-eminence of the mo- 
narch of the woods is particularly shown in his having the 
most countenance. 



The more violent qualities of the elephant are discoverable 
in the number and size of his bones ; his intelligence in the 
roundness of their form, and his docility in the massiness of 
his muscles ; his art and discretion in the flexibility of his trunk ; 
his retentive memory in the size and arching of his forehead, 
which approaches nearer to the outline of the human forehead 
than that of any other beast. — Yet how essentially different is 
it from the human forehead, in the position of the eye and 
mouth, since the latter generally makes nearly a right angle 
with the axis of the eye and the middle line of the mouth ! 

Let us further remark the narrow pointing of the eye, which 
has so much of the character of craft, in opposition to the eye 
of the fish ; also the proportion of the mouth, and the breadth 
of its profile, when closed, and then determine, as accurately 
as may be, the angle which it will form with the corner of the 


eye, as in 2.* How different to this the equally progressive 
hard breadth of the forehead and nose, or rather of the nostril 
and mouth, of the river horse Behemoth ! How stupidly savage 
and inexorable ! How irregular are the position and figure of 
the teeth ! How peculiar the character of Satanic, but foolish, 
self-destructive malignity ! 

The crocodile proves how very physiognomonical teeth are. 
This, like other creatures, but more visibly and infallibly than 
others, in all its parts, outlines, and points, has physiognomy 
that cannot be mistaken. Thus debased, thus despicable, thus 
knotty, obstinate, and wicked, thus sunken below the noble 
horse, terrific, and void of all love and affection, is this fiend 


" Hast thou given the horse strength ? Hast thou clothed 
his neck with thunder ? 

"Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper ? The glory 
of his nostrils is terrible. 

" He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength : he 
goeth on to meet the armed men. 

" He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted ; neither turneth 
he back from the sword. 

" The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and 
the shield. 

" He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage ; 
neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 

" He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha ; and he smelleth 
the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shout- 
ing." — Job xxxix. 19 — 25. 

I am but little acquainted with horses, yet it seems to me 
indubitable that there is as great a difference in the physiog- 
nomy of horses as in that of men ; and the horse deserves to 
be particularly considered by the physiognomist, because it is 
one of the animals whose physiognomy, at least in profile, is 

* There are no numbers in the original plate, though from this passage 
some seem to have been intended. T. 


so much more prominent, sharp, and characteristic, tnan that 
of most other beasts. 

" The horse, of all animals, is that which, to largeness of size, 
unites most proportion and elegance in the parts of his body ; 
for, comparing him to those which are immediately above or 
below him, we shall perceive that the ass is ill made, the head 
of the lion is too large, the legs of the ox too small, the camel 
is deformed, and the rhinoceros and elephant too unwieldy." 

There is scarcely any beast has so various, so generally 
marking, so speaking a countenance, as a beautiful horse. 

" In a well-made horse, the upper part of the neck from 
which the mane flows, ought to rise, at first, in a right line ; 
and, as it approaches the head, to form a curve somewhat 
similar to the neck of the swan. The lower part of the neck 
ought to be rectilinear, in its direction from the chest to the 
nether jaw, but a little inclined forward ; for, were it perpen- 
dicular, the shape of the neck would be defective. The upper 
part of the neck should be thin, and not fleshy ; nor the mane, 
which ought to be tolerably full, and the hair long and straight. 
A fine neck ought to be long, and elevated ; yet proportionate 
to the size of the horse. If too long and small, the horse 
would strike the rider with his head ; if too short and fleshy, 
he would bear heavy on the hand. The head is advantage- 
ously placed when the forehead is perpendicular to the horizon. 
The head ought to be bony, and small, not too long ; the ears 
near each other, small, erect, firm, straight, free, and situated 
on the top of the head. The forehead should be narrow and 
somewhat convex, the hollows filled up, the eyelids thin, the 
eyes clear, penetrating, full of ardour, tolerably large, as I may 
say, and projecting from the head. The pupil large, the under 
jaw bony, and rather thick ; the nose somewhat arched, the 
nostrils open, and well slit, the partition thin, the lips fine, the 
mouth tolerably large, the withers high and sharp." 

I shall be pardoned this quotation from the JEJncyclopedie, 
and for inserting thus much of the description of a beautiful 
horse, in a physiognomonical essay intended to 'promote the 
knowledge and the love of man. You laugh. — Having laughed 
with you, permit me, afterwards, to ask, does not this descrip- 


tion prove the reality of that science, which, in another part 
of the same work, has been exploded among those that are 
held to be chimerical ? But must not a horse, thus formed, 
be more excellent, and of a more noble character, than a dull 
and common hack ? 

Not only beautiful, but, I repeat, more noble, proud, spirited, 
firm, faithful, and sure. 

And shall he who thus has formed the horse — whose under- 
standing is so deficient compared to that of man — shall he who 
hath thus transfused beauty and nobility, strength and truth, 
through all his limbs, so have formed man that his internal 
and external shall be incongruous*? 

Shall he who can find the countenance of a horse significant, 
and that it is significant no sophist can doubt the moment a 
horse appears ; shall he, possibly, suppose the countenance of 
man to be. insignificant? " I will acknowledge," says the ma- 
gisterial critic, " that horses may be judged from appearances, 
but not the creature of reason, man. The horse is a horse, 
the man is a man." 

The more accurately we observe horses, the more shall we 
be convinced that a separate treatise of physiognomy might be 
written on them. 

I have somewhere heard a general remark, that horses are 
divided into three classes ; the swan-necked, stag-necked, and 
hog-necked. Each of these classes has its peculiar counte- 
nance and character, and from the blending of which, various 
others originate. 

The heads of the swan-necked are commonly even, the fore- 
head small, and almost flat ; the nose extends, arching, from 
the eyes to the mouth ; the nostrils are wide and open ; the 
mouth small ; the ears little, pointed, and projecting ; the eyes 
large, and round; the jaw below, small; above, something 
broader ; the whole body well proportioned ; and the horse 
beautiful. This kind is cheerful, tractable, and high-spirited. 
They are very sensible of pain, which (when dressing) they 
sometimes express by the voice. Flattery greatly excites 
their joy, and they will express their pride of heart, by parad- 
ing and prancing. — I dare venture to wager that a man with a 



swan-neck, or, what is much more determinate, with a smooth, 
projecting profile, and flaxen hair, would have similar sensibi- 
lity and pride. 

The stag- necked has something, in the make of his body, 
much resembling the stag itself. The neck is small, long, and 
scarcely bowed in the middle. He carries his head high. I 
have seen none of these. They are racers and hunters, being 
particularly adapted for swiftness by the make of the body. 

The hog-necked — the neck above and below is alike broad ; 
the head hanging downwards ; the middle of the nose is con- 
cave, in profile ; the ears are long, thick, and hanging ; the 
eyes small, and ugly; the nostrils small; the mouth large; the 
whole body round; and the coat long, and rough. These 
horses are intractable, slow, and vicious ; will run the rider 
against a wall, stone, or tree. When held in, they rear, and 
endeavour to throw the rider. Blows or coaxing are fre- 
quently alike ineffectual, they continue obstinate and restiff. 
— 1 leave the reader to apply these remarks to the human 



Which are not sufficiently tranquil, nor enough in profile, 
to be serviceable as they might have been to the observer ; yet 
that they are none of them wholly noble or ignoble is easily 
perceptible. 1 and 2, the most moderate ; 1, partakes of the 
hog-necked. 3, the cunningest. 4, obstinate, deceitful, savage. 
5, noble, and timid. 6, the noblest. 

If we examine all possible heads of horses, we shall find, 
that all cheerful, high-spirited, capricious, courageous horses, 
have the nose-bone of the profile convex ; and that most of the 
vicious, restive, and idle, have the same bone flat, or concave. 
In the eyes, mouth, and, especially, in the nostrils, and jaw- 
bones, are remarkable varieties, concerning which I shall say 
nothing. It is sufficient if it shall be manifest to the reader, 
from all observations he shall make on nature, that dissimilar 


qualities, in the same species of animal, have very different ex- 
pressions ; and that the creative power, so manifest in the 
formation of the horse, must also have formed the most beau- 
tiful and perfect of all creatures with, at least, equal wisdom 
and truth. 

I shall add some remarks on the horse communicated by a 

" The grey* is the tenderest of horses ; and we may here 
add that people with light hair, if not effeminate, are yet, it is 
well known, of tender formation and constitution. The ches- 
nut and iron grey, the black and bay, are hardy; the sorrel 
are the most hardy, and yet the most subject to disease. 

" The sorrel, whether well or ill-formed, is treacherous. 

" All treacherous horses lay their ears in the neck. 

" They stare, and stop, and lay down their ears alter- 

The following passage, on the same subject, is cited from 
another writer. 

" When a horse has broad, long, widely-separated, hanging 
ears, we are well assured, he is bad and sluggish. If he lays 
down his ears alternately, he is fearful, and apt to start. 
Thin, pointed, and projecting ears, on the contrary, denote a 
horse of a good disposition. 

" We never find that the thick, hog-necked horse is suffici- 
ently tractable for the riding-house ; or that he is of a strong 
nature when the tail shakes, like the tail of a dog. We may 
be certain, that a horse with large cheerful eyes, and a fine 
shining coat, if we have no other tokens, is of a good constitu- 
tion and understanding. 

" These remarks are equally applicable to oxen and sheep, 
and probably to all other animals. The white ox is not so 
long serviceable, for draught or labour, as the black or red ; 
he is more weak and sickly than these. A sheep with short 
legs, strong neck, broad back, and cheerful eye, is a good 
breeder, and remains peaceably with the flock. — And I am of 
opinion, if we may judge of the internal by the external of 
beasts, we can do the same by men." 

* Perhaps the dun, or cream-colour. — T. 




Nature, ever steadfast to truth, thus manifests herself in 
the form of birds. These, whether compared to each other 
or to other creatures, have their distinct characters. 

The structure of birds, through6ut, is lighter than that of 
quadrupeds ; their necks are more pliant, their heads smaller, 
their mouths more pointed, and their garb more bright and 
shining. , 

A few examples will be given to prove this well-known fact. 
It is evident that the birds 1 heads annexed, are physiogno- 
monically, and characteristically, distinct. 

Their distinction of character, or gradation of passive and 
active power, is expressed by the following physiognomonical 

« By the form of the skull. The more flat the skull, the 
more weak, flexible, tender, and sensible is the character of 
the animal. This flatness contains less, and resists less. 

b By the length, breadth, and arching, or obliquity, of their 
Deaks. And here again we find, where there is arching, there 
is a greater extent of docility and capacity. 

c By the eyes, which appear to have an exact correspond- 
ence with the arching of the beak. 

d Particularly, by the middle line, I cannot say of the 
mouth, but of what is analogous to the mouth, the beak ; the 
obliquity of which is ever in a remarkable proportion with the 
outline of the profile of the head. 

e And, likewise, by the angle which this line forms with the 
eye. How extremely obtuse is this angle, in 1, 2, 4, of Plate 
XXXVII ! How rectangular; if not acute, is it in the eagle, 6 ! 
In this, also, the royal bird more resembles the monarch of the 
earth, notwithstanding their otherwise infinite difference, than 
all the rest of the feathered species; while the weakest of 
birds approaches, in this, as well as in other respects, to the 
rank offish. 

Who can behold this firm-built bird, hovering in the air, this 


powerful lord of so many creatures, without perceiving the seal, 
the native star of royalty in his piercing round eye, the form of 
his head, his strong wings, his talons of brass ; and, in his 
whole form, his victorious strength, his contemptuous arro- 
gance, his fearful cruelty, and his ravenous propensity ? Con- 
sider the eyes of all living creatures, from the eagle to the 
mole ; where else can be found that lightning glance which 
defies the rays of the sun ? Where that capacity for the re- 
ception of light? — Where ! — How truly, how emphatically, to 
all who will hear and understand, is the majesty of his kingly 
character visible ; not alone in his burning eye, but in the 
outline of what is analogous to the eye-bone, and in the skin of 
his head, where anger and courage are seated ! But through- 
out his whole form, where are they not? 

What a gradation from him to the English cock, with the 
arrogant, proud look of impotent jealousy, and from the latter 
to the feeble, lustful sparrow, 7. 

How much might yet be added of the characteristics of 
birds ! But all this we cannot add, for it must be remembered 
we do but write fragments. 

Yet a word more. 

Compare the vulture with the eagle, and who does not ob- 
serve in his lengthened neck and beak, and in his more extended 
form, less power and nobility than in the eagle ? 

In the head of the owl, the ignoble greedy prey. 

In the cassowary, 8, what physiognomonical character, what 
rudeness, what effeminate rage, without sense or feeling ! 

In the dove, mild, humble timidity. 

And in the swan, more nobility than in the goose, with less 
power than in the eagle, and tenderness than in the dove ; more 
pliability than in the ostrich; and in the wild duck, a more 
savage animal than in the swan, without the eagle's force. 




plait: xutiii 



As is the power of perception, so is the expression. How 
different are these profiles from that of man ! How much the 
reverse of human perpendicularity ! How little is there of 
countenance, when compared to the lion ! How visible is the 
want of mind, reflection, and cunning ! 

What little or no analogy to forehead ! What an impos- 
sibility of covering, of half, or entirely closing the eyes ! The 
eye itself is merely circular, and prominent ; has nothing of the 
lengthened form of the eye of the fox, or elephant. 

A monster, 2. How infinitely distant from all that can be 
called graceful, lovely, or agreeable ! The arched mouth, with 
the pointed teeth, how senseless, intractable, and void of pas- 
sion or feeling ; devouring without pleasure or satisfaction ! 
How inexpressibly stupid is the mouth of 3, especially in its 
relative proportion to the eye ! 


How inexpressibly various are the characteristics impressed 
by the eternal Creator on all living beings ! 

How has he stamped on each its legible and peculiar pro- 
perties ? How especially visible is this in the lowest classes of 
animal life ! The world of insects is a world of itself. The 
distance between this and the world of men I own is great; 
yet, were it sufficiently known, how useful would it be to 
human physiognomy ! What certain proofs of the physiognomy 
of men must be obtained from insect physiognomy ! 

Through all their forms and gradations, how visible are their 
powers of destruction, of suffering and resisting ; of sensibility 
and insensibility! Are not all the compact hard- winged in- 
sects physiognomonically and characteristically more capable 
and retentive than various light and tender species of the but- 
terfly 'i Is not the softest flesh the weakest, the most suffer 



ing, the easiest to destroy ? Are not the insects of least brain 
the beings most removed from man, who has the most brain ? 

Is it not perceptible in each species whether it be warlike, 
defensive, enduring, weak, enjoying, destructive, easy to be 
crushed, or crushing ? How distinct in the external character 
are their degrees of strength, of defence, of stinging, or of 
appetite ! 

The agility and swiftness of the great dragon fly, 1, are 
shown in the structure of its wings. Perpetually on flight, in 
search of small flies. — How sluggish, on the contrary, is the 
crawling caterpillar, 2 ! How carefully does he set his feet as 
he ascends a leaf ! How yielding his substance, incapable of 
resistance ! — How peaceable, harmless, and indolent is the 
moth, 8 ! — How full of motion, bravery, and hardiness, is the 
industrious ant ! How loath to remove, on the contrary, is 
the harnessed lady bird ! 


If any being, throughout nature, can be discovered void of 
physiognomy, or a countenance which does not express its cha- 
racter, then will I allow that physiognomy, when applied to 
man, is a false science. 

What has less yet more of physiognomy than the serpent ? 
May we not perceive, in the heads before us, decisive tokens 
of cunning and treachery ? 

Certainly not a trace of understanding, or deliberate plan. 
— No memory, no comprehension, but the most unbounded 
craft and falsehood. — How are these reprobate qualities dis- 
tinguishable in their form ! 

The very play of their colours, and wonderful meandering of 

their spots, appear to announce and to warn us of their deceit. 

Among these four heads, which can gain affection, or inspire 

confidence ? Let us but, in imagination, suppose any such 

human countenance, and how should we shrink and shudder ! 

I grant, indeed, that the most crafty men have eyes sunken 
in the head, whereas the eye in the serpent is prominent, but 
this is the sign of malignant craft. 9, only, has the aspect of 


The cut of the mouth, deprived of lips, is gently circular, 
and deep in the head beyond the eye. — I shall make no com- 
ment on this, it speaks for itself. 

All men possessed of real power are upright and honest ; 
craft is but the substitute of power. — I do not, here, speak of 
the power contained in the folds of the serpent ; they all want 
the power to act, immediately, without the aid of cunning. 
They are formed to " bruise the heel, and to have the head 

The judgment which God has pronounced against them is 
written on their flat, impotent forehead, mouth, and eye. 


Of all animals the monkey is known to have most the 
appearance of the human form. I cautiously repeat the ap- 
pearance, for, I believe, the bones of the elephant, and also 
the bones of the heads of some horses, notwithstanding then- 
great apparent dissimilarity, have more of the human form 
than the bones of the greater part of monkeys : but this ap- 
plies properly to the bone of the nose in the horse. 

Inconceivable is the distance between the nature of the man 
and the monkey. 

Once more, oh man ! rejoice in thy manhood. Inimitable 
as thou art, rejoice in thy inimitability. Seek not greatness 
by assuming the baseness of the brute, or humility in the de- 
gradation of thy nature. 

The skull of certain monkeys, as we shall soon see, is most 
like the skull of man ; there is, also, a similarity in the mode 
m which objects are impressed upon their mind. 

Of the monkey species, the most resembling men are the 
orang outang, and the pithecus, or pigmy. The other kinds 
depart much more from the form of the human body. 

The orang outang imitates all the actions of man, but with- 
out ever attaining to the performance. 

Those who wish to degrade man to beast, caricature him to 
the rank of the orang outang ; and, in idea, raise the orang 
outang to the rank of man. 


But exact observation, and comparison of the skulls, only, 
although there is much similitude between them, will make 
the great difference conspicuous ; and render the eternal ub.- 
attainableness of the monkey to man more than probable. 

It is said of man, in a state of nature — but where is thr.t 
state ? There, where natural religion is found without reve- 
lation. And does not the universal worth of man prove that 
this is no where ? The non-existence of natural religion is 
manifest from the necessity of divine instruction. — It is said 
of man, in a state of nature, " That his hair would stand 
erect, or be woolly ; would spread over his countenance, and 
that his forehead would be wholly covered with long hair ; 
that he would lose the majesty of his appearance ; his eye 
would be covered, would appear sunken deeper, or more round, 
as in beasts ; that the lips would be thick and projecting, the 
nose fiat, the aspect stupid, or ferocious ; the ears, limbs, and 
body, shaggy ; the skin hard, like to black or brown leather ; 
the nails long, thick, and hooked ; the soles of the feet callous ; 
therefore how difficult would be the distinction between man 
and beast !" 

Not so difficult. I cannot compare, but those who can, 
ought, at least, skull vvitb skull. 

What monkey has the forehead of man, when the -hair is 
combed back ? — The hair of the monkey cannot be combed 

Where the height and breadth ; where the arching of the 
human forehead, as in man ? 

Where, especially, the marking of the eyebrows, in the 
motion of which Le Brun has found the expression of all the 
passions, and in which, alone, so much more is still to be found ? 

Where the free and prominent nose, where any similar 
descent to the mouth ? 

Where the lips of man ; their shape, motion, and colour ? 

Where the cheeks, where the projecting chin, where the 
neck ? — Where humanity ? 

A new-born child, of the most savage nation, has all the 
characteristics of man. Let it be compared to a new-born 
orang outang, and, in the first, will certainly be discovered a 


much greater possibility of becoming an angel, than, in the 
second, of becoming a man. 



The most like man among the heads we have produced, is 
4, orang outang, or jocko, the small man of the woods : and 
how unlike are these, the most like ! 

Brutal inferiority to man is especially to be sought — 

a * In the shortness of the forehead, which is far from having 
the beautiful proportions of the human ; and, accurately speak- 
ing, is no forehead. A flat forehead is as great a solecism as 
it would be to say a horizontal perpendicular. 

b In the want of, or in the concealing of, the white of the 

c In the proximity of the eyes, at least of the eye-holes in 
the skull ; 

d In the nose, small above, flat below, and not prominent ; 
which, accurately considered, and compared with the noses of 
^ther beasts, is as brutal, and unlike man, as nose can be ; 

e In the contracted height of the ears, which, on the human 
head, are generally parallel with the eyebrows and nose ; 

f In the descent from the nose to the mouth, which is 
nearly as long as the chin, or the part which corresponds to 
the chin ; whereas, in man, it has, usually, only half the length 
of the chin ; more especially when we consider that this dis- 
proportionate space is, in reality, only apparent ; for the space 
which separates the nose and mouth is a highly brutal cleft, 
which is but a continuation of the nose, or what is analogous 
to the nose, and extends itself to the mouth. This is an ex- 
tremely significant trait to a physiognomical eye, and denotes 
the meanest of meanness ; as it is especially expressed in the 
nrofile, and half profile, of 1 and 3, and also in 2 ; 

g In the simply arched form of the lips ; 

* The letters a, b', c, &c. which are found in the German, are only signs 
corresponding to 1, 2, 3, &c. — T. 


/* In the make of the head, which, included between three 
right lines, approaches a triangle ; 

Not to mention the hair and the neck. 

It is said of this animal that his manners are melancholy, 
his gait grave, his motions measured, as it were ; his natural 
temper mild, and very different from that of other monkeys. 
He is not so impatient as the Barbary ape, nor so vicious as 
the baboon, 1, nor so mischievous as long-tailed monkeys 

No species of monkey has the human lip, therefore how un 
like to man ! Properly speaking, they have no lips. 

The mouths of most monkeys have the following charac- 

12 3 4 5 6 

Of all these lines, only 1 and 6 have any thing human ; the 
remainder all are perfectly brutal, especially 2 and 5. I say 
any thing human, and I have said too much. Accurately con- 
sidered and compared, the middle line of each monkey mouth, 
when shaded according to its internal structure, is essentially 
distinct and heterogeneous from every middle line of the mouth 
of man. 

One other remark of importance. 

It is remarked of some men that they seem to be of the 
monkey race, but the more accurately they are considered and 
compared, the less we shall find of resemblance, particularly in 
the forehead ; for those who are compared to monkeys have 
the freest, openest foreheads, and are, in this most essential 
part, the least like to monkeys. — These men are generally 
very useful, active, addicted to order, expert in business, cun- 
ning, and are almost indispensable to society. 


A peculiar form of a common skull of the monkey may be 
seen in Figs. 5 and 6, of the plate annexed. 

No skull of any beast, certainly, has so much of the human 
form as this. 


Yet are the essential differences very remarkable, and, in 
my opinion, very important, in physiognomy. 

One of the most remarkable is the smallness of the space 
between the two eye-holes. 

The second is the flatness of the retreating forehead, espe- 
cially as it is seen in profile. In the drawing it is flattering 
and too erect. 

The third is the aperture of the nose, in the skull of man. 
This aperture has the outline of a heart inverted ; but, in the 
monkey skull, the angle of the heart is downward, and the 
broad part above. 

The fourth difference is in the descent from the forehead tc 
the nose. The root, or insertion of the nose, in the human 
skull, -is much nearer the forehead than in the skull of the 

The fifth : the human jaw is, in proportion, much broader 
and better provided with teeth, than that of the monkey, 
which, seen in front, is too narrow ; and, in profile, too pointed, 
and out arching. 

The sixth ; the chin of man is more projecting. The chin 
of the monkey is so far back, that if a man's skull and a mon- 
key's be placed upon a table, resting on the chin, the latter 
can scarcely be perceived to have any. 

I believe it may be received as a physiognomonical axiom, 
that the more chin the more man, so long as it bears a pro- 
portion to the nose. I speak not of fleshly, but bony chins. 
Hence scarcely any beast, viewed in front, has chin. Hence 
the retreating chin and the retreating forehead generally 
accompany each other. 

The seventh difference, particularly visible in profile, is the 
form and size of the back of the head. How much more 
lengthened and depressed than that of man is the monkey's ! 
The angle formed by the back part of the under jaw and 
the line of the bottom of the head is nearly a right one. How 
different is the skull of man, in which the lower jaw-bone is 
almost horizontal with the lower protuberance, or the apo- 
physis occipitalis, which protuberance the skull of the mon- 
key has not ! 


" Ce n'est done qu'un animal ; et, malgre sa ressemblance 
avec Thomme, bien loin d'etre le second dans notre espece, il 
n'est pas meme le premier dans l'ordre des animaux, puisqu'il 
n'est pas le plus intelligent."" * And why not ? Because he 
has so little forehead and brain ; because, in essential things 
he is essentially different from man. 


Whoever would recognize the truth of physiognomy, and 
the profound wisdom of nature, in the formation of animals ; 
and would wish, from ■experience, to be convinced she acts ac- 
cording to known laws, let him compare the profiles of all ani- 
mals, and remark, 

a The proportion of the mouth to the whole head. 

b Of the eye to the mouth. 

c And the proportion according to the middle line of the 

d According to the form and obliquity, or curving of the 
mouth ; 

e The angle which this line generally considered forms with 
the mouth. . 

In man, for example, the eye, seen in profile, stands about 
six times as high above the mouth as the profile line of the 
mouth is broad. 

This is nearly a right angle in the wisest and best of men. 
When most remote from a right angle, and so obtuse as to 
appear nearly a right line, brutality of the grossest kind is 
there manifest ; as it also is when the proportion between the 
profile line of the mouth and an imaginary line, drawn from 
the mouth to the eye, is most distant from human proportion ; 
which when true, is as one to six. 

* He, therefore, is but beast ; and, notwithstanding his resemblance to 
man, far from being the second to our species, he is not the first of the 
brutal class,, since he is not the most intelligent of brutes. 



How much may the anatomist see in the mere skull of 
man ! How much more the physiognomist ! And how much 
the most the anatomist who is a physiognomist ! 

I blush when I think how much I ought to know, and of 
how much I am ignorant, while writing on a part of the body 
of man which is so superior to all that science has yet dis- 
covered; to all belief, to all conception. 

It must have been already remarked that I take the system 
of the bones as the great outline of man, the skull as the prin- 
cipal part of that system, and that I consider what is added 
almost as the colouring of this drawing ; that I pay more at- 
tention to the form and arching of the skull, as far as I am 
acquainted with it, than all my predecessors ; and that I have 
considered this most firm, least changeable, and far best de- 
fined part of the human body as thg foundation of the science 
of physiognomy. 

I shall therefore be permitted to enlarge further on this 
member of the human body. 

I confess I scarcely know where to begin, where to end ; 
what to say, or what to omit. 

I think it advisable to premise a few words concerning the 
generation and formation of human bones. 

The whole of the human foetus is at first supposed to be 
only a soft mucilaginous substance, homogeneous in all its 
parts, and that the bones themselves are but a kind of coagu- 
lated fluid, which, afterwards, becomes membraneous, then 
cartilaginous, and, at last, hard bone. 

As this viscous congelation, originally so transparent and 
tender, increases, it becomes thicker, and more opaque, and a 
dark point makes its appearance different from the cartilage, 
and of the nature of bone, but not yet perfectly hard. This 
point may be called the kernel of the future bone ; the centre 
round which the ossification extended. 

We must, however, consider the coagulation attached to 
the cartilage as a mass without shape, and only with a proper 



propensity for assuming its future form. In its earliest, ten- 
derest state, the traces of it are expressed upon the cartilage 
though very imperfectly. 

With respect to the bony kernels, we find differences which 
seem to determine the forms of the future bones. The simple 
and smaller bones have each only one kernel, but, in the more 
gross, thick, and angular, there are several, in different parts 
of the original cartilage ; and it must be remarked that the 
number of the joining bones is equivalent to the number of 
the kernels. 

In the bones of the skull, the round kernel first is apparent, 
in the centre of each piece ; and the ossification extends itself, 
like radii from the centre, in filaments, which increase in 
length, thickness, and solidity ; and are interwoven with each 
other, like net-work. Hence these delicate, indented futures 
of the skull, when its various parts are, at length, joined. 

We have hitherto only spoken of the first stage of ossifica- 
tion. The second begins^ about the fourth or fifth month, 
when the bones, together with the rest of the parts, are more 
perfectly formed, and, in the progress of ossification, include 
the whole cartilage, according to the more or less life of the 
creature, and the original different impulse and power of mo- 
tion in the being. 

Agreeable to their original formation, through each suc- 
ceeding period of age, they will continue to increase in thick- 
ness and hardness. 

But on this subject anatomists disagree. — So let them : 
future physiognomists may consider this more at large. I 
retreat from contest, and will travel in the high road of cer 
tainty, and confine myself to what is visible. 

Thus much is certain, that the activity of the muscles, 
vessels, and other parts which surround the bones, contribute 
much to their formation, and gradual increase in hardness. 

The remains of the cartilaginous, in the young bones, will, 
in the sixth and seventh month, decrease in quantity, harden, 
and whiten, as the bony parts approach perfection. Some 
bones obtain a certain degree of firmness in much less time 
than others ; as for example, the skull-bones, and the small 



bones within the ear. Not only whole bones, but parts of a 
single bone, are of various degrees of hardness. They will be 
hardest at the place where the kernel of ossification began, 
and the parts adjacent, and the rigidity increases more slowly 
and insensibly the harder the bones are, and the older the 
man is. What was cartilage will become bone : parts that 
were separate will grow together, and the whole bones be de- 
prived of moisture. 

Anatomists divide the form into the natural or essential, 
which is generally the same, in all bones, in the human body, 
how different soever it may be to other bodies ; and into the 
accidental, which is subject to various changes in the same in- 
dividual, according to the influence of external objects, or, 
especially, of the gradations of age. 

The first is founded in the universality of the nature of the 
parents, the uniformity of the semen, and the circumstances 
which naturally and invariably attend propagation ; whence it 
happens that man generates man, and beast beast. 

Anatomists consider only the designation of the bones in- 
dividually ; on this, at least, is grounded the agreement of what 
they call the essential form, in distinct subjects. This there- 
fore only speaks to the agreement of human countenances so 
far as they each have two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and other 
features thus or thus disposed. 

This natural formation is certainly as different as human 
countenances afterwards are ; which difference is the work of 
nature, the original destination of the Lord and Creator of all 

The physiognomist distinguishes between original form and 

Inexplicable, singularly true, pure, predestination ! Each 
bone hath its original form, its individual capacity of form ; it 
may, it does, continually alter, but it never acquires the pecu- 
liar form of another bone, which was originally different. The 
accidental changes of bones, however great, or different from 
the original form, are yet ever governed by the nature of this 
original, individual form ; nor can any power of pressure ever 
so change the original form but that, if compared to another 


system of bones, that has suffered an equal pressure, it will be- 
perfectly distinct. As little as the Ethiopian can change his 
skin, or the leopard his spots, whatever be the changes to which 
they may be subject, as little can the original form of any bone 
be changed into the original form of any other bone. 

Vessels every where penetrate the bones, supplying them 
with juices and marrow. The younger the bone is, the more 
are there of these vessels, consequently the more porous and 
flexible are the bones ; and the reverse. 

The period when such or such changes take place in the 
bones cannot easily be defined ; it differs according to the 
nature of men and accidental circumstances. 

The age of the foetus may be tolerably well determined by 
the bones, except that the older the body the more difficult is 
the determination. 

Large and long and multiform bones, in order to facilitate 
their ossification and growth, at first, consist of several pieces, 
the smaller of which are called supplemental. The bone re- 
mains imperfect till these become incorporated ; hence their 
possible distortion in children, by the rickets, and other dis- 


The scientific physiognomist ought to direct his attention to 
this distortion of the bones, especially those of the head. He 
ought to learn accurately to remark, compare, and define the 
first form of children, and the numerous relative deviations. 
He ought to have attained that precision that should enable 
him to say, at beholding the head of a new-born infant, of half 
a year, a year, or two years old, " Such and such will be the 
form of the system of the bones, under such and such limita- 
tions," and on viewing the skull at ten, twelve, twenty, or 
twenty-four years of age, " Such or such was the form, eight, 
ten, or twenty years ago ; and such or such will be the form, 
eight, ten, or twenty years hence, violence excepted." He 
ought to be able to see the youth in the boy, and the man in 
the youth ; and, on the reverse, the youth in the man, the boy 


hi the youth, the infant in the boy, and, lastly, the embryo in 
its proper individual form. 

He ought ? — He shall ! And then, Oh physiognomy ! shalt 
thou first stand unshaken ; then first shalt thou stand deep 
rooted in nature, like a tree on which the birds of heaven 
build, and under whose shadow wise and good men repose, — or 
adore ! At present thou art but a grain of mustard seed, in 
the hand, either observed or cast away. 

Let us, oh ! ye who adore that wisdom which has framed all 
things, contemplate, a moment longer, the human skull. 

There are, in the bare skull of man, the same varieties 
as are to be found in the whole external form of the living 

As the infinite varieties of the external form of man is one 
of the indestructible pillars of physiognomy, no less so, in my 
opinion, must the infinite varieties of the skull itself be. What 
I have hereafter to remark will, in part, show that we ought 
particularly to begin by that, if, instead of a subject of 
curiosity or amusement, we would wish to make the science of 
2>hysiognomy universally useful. 

I shall show that from the structure, form, outline, and pro- 
perties of the bones, not all, indeed, but much, may be dis- 
covered, and probably more than from all the other parts. 



What answer shall I make to that objection with which a 
certain anti-physiognomist had made himself so merry ? 

" In the catacombs, near Rome," affirms he, " a number of 
skeletons were found, which were supposed to be the relics of 
saints, and, as such, were honoured. After some time, several 
learned men began to doubt whether these had really been the 
sepulchres of the first christians and martyrs, and even to sus- 
pect that malefactors and banditti might have been buried 
there. The piety of the faithful was, thus, much puzzled ; 
but, if the science of physiognomy be so certain, they might 
have removed all their doubts by sending for Lavater, who, 


with very little trouble, by merely examining and touching 
them, might have distinguished the bones of the saints from 
the bones of the banditti, and thus have restored the true 
relics to their just and original pre-eminence.'" 

" The conceit is whimsical enough," answers a cold, phleg- 
matic friend of physiognomy ; " but, having tired ourselves 
with laughing, let us examine what would have been the con- 
sequence had this story been fact. According to our opinion, 
the physiognomist would have remarked great differences in a 
number of bones, particularly in the skulls, which to the 
ignorant, would have appeared perfectly similar ; and having 
classed his heads, and shown their immediate gradations, and 
the contrast of the two extremes, we may presume, the atten- 
tive spectator would have been inclined to pay some respect 
to his conjectures on the qualities, and activity of brain, 
which each formerly contained. 

" Besides, when we reflect how certain it is that many male- 
factors have been possessed of extraordinary abilities and 
energy, and how uncertain it is whether many of the saints, 
who are honoured with red letter days in the calendar, ever 
possessed such qualities, we find the question so intricate, that 
we should be inclined to pardon the poor physiognomist, were 
he - to refuse an answer, and leave the decision to the great 
infallible Judge." 



This answer is good, but insufficient. Let us endeavour 
further to investigate the question. 

Who ever yet pretended absolutely to distinguish saints 
from banditti, by inspecting only the skull I 

To me it appears that justice requires we should, in all our 
decisions concerning books, men, and opinions, judge each 
according to their pretensions, and not ascribe pretensions 
which have not been made to any man. 

I have heard of no physiognomist who has had, and am 
certain that I myself never have had, any such presumption. 


Notwithstanding which, I maintain, as a truth most demon- 
strable, that, by the mere form, proportion, hardness, or weak- 
ness of the skull, the strength or weakness of the general 
character may be known, with the greatest certainty. 

But, as has been often repeated, strength and weakness is 
neither virtue nor vice, saint nor malefactor. 

Power, like riches, may be employed to the advantage or 
detriment of society ; as the same wealth may be in the pos- 
session of a saint or a demon : and, as it is with wealth, or 
arbitrary positive power, so is it with natural, innate power. 
As in a hundred rich men there are ninety-nine who are no 
saints, so will there scarcely be one saint among a hundred 
men born with this power. 

When, therefore, we remark in a skull, great, original, and 
percussive power, we cannot, indeed, say this man was a male- 
factor, but we may affirm there was this excess of power, 
which, if it were not qualified and tempered during life, there 
is the highest probability it would have been agitated by the 
spirit of conquest, would have become a general, a conqueror ; 
a Csesar, or a Cartouch. Under certain circumstances, he 
would, probably, have acted in a certain manner, and his 
actions would have varied according to the variation of circum- 
stances ; but he would always have acted with ardour, tem- 
pestuously ; always as a ruler and a conqueror. 

Thus, also, we may affirm of certain other skulls, which, in 
their whole structure and form, discover tenderness, and a 
resemblance to parchment, that they denote weakness ; a mere 
capability, perceptive, without percussive, without creative 
power. Therefore, under certain circumstances, such people 
would have acted weakly. They would not have had the native 
power of withstanding this or that temptation, of engaging in 
this or that enterprise. In the fashionable world, they would 
have acted the fop, the libertine in a more confined circle, and 
the enthusiastic saint in a convent. 

Oh, how differently may the same power, the same sensibi- 
lity, the same capacity, act, feel, and conceive under different 
circumstances ! 


And hence we may, in part, comprehend the possibility of 
predestination and liberty, in one and the same subject. 

Take a man of the commonest understanding to a charnel- 
house, and make him attentive to the differences of skulls. In 
a short time he will either perceive of himself, or understand 
when told, here is strength, there weakness ; here obstinacy, 
and there indecision. 

If shown the bald head of Caesar, as painted by Reubens or 
Titian, or that of Michael Angelo, what man would be dull 
enough not to discover that impulsive power, that strong rocky 
sense, by which they were peculiarly characterized ; and that 
more ardour, more action, must be expected than from a 
smooth, round, flat head ? 

How characteristic is the skull of Charles XII. ! How 
different from the skull of his biographer, Voltaire ! Compare 
the skull of Judas with the skull of Christ, after Holbein, dis- 
carding the muscular parts, and, I doubt, if asked which was 
the wicked betrayer, which the innocent betrayed, whether any 
one would hesitate. 

I will acknowledge that when two determinate heads are 
presented to us, with such striking differences, and the one of 
which is known to be that of a malefactor, the other that of a 
saint, it is infinitely more easy to decide ; nor should he who 
can distinguish between them, therefore, affirm he can distin- 
guish the skulls of saints from the skulls of malefactors. 

To conclude : who is unacquainted with the anecdote in He- 
rodotus, that it was possible, many years afterwards, on the 
field of battle, to distinguish the skulls of the effeminate Medes 
from those of the manly Persians. I think I have heard the 
same remark made of the Swiss and the Burgundians. This, 
at least, proves it is granted that we may perceive, in the 
skull only, a difference of strength, of manners, as well as of 



M. Fischer has published an essay on the difference of 
bones, as they relate to sex, and particularly to nations, which 
is well deserving of attention. The following are some thoughts 
on the subject, concerning which nothing will be expected 
from me, but very much from M. Kamper. 

Consideration and comparison of the external and internal 
make of the body, in male and female, teaches us that the one 
is destined for labour and strength, and the other for beauty 
and propagation. The bones, particularly, denote masculine 
strength in the former ; and, so far as the stronger and the 
prominent are more easy to describe than the less prominent 
and the weaker, so far is the male skeleton and skull the 
easiest to define. 

The general structure of the bones, in the male, and of the 
skull in particular, is evidently of stronger formation than in 
the female. The body of the male increases, from the hip to 
shoulder, in breadth and thickness : hence, the broad shoulders, 
and square form of the strong ; whereas, the female skeleton 
gradually grows thinner and weaker from the hip, upwards, and, 
by degrees, appears as if it were rounded. 

Even single bones in the female are more tender, smooth, 
and round ; have fewer sharp edges, cutting and prominent 

We may here, properly, cite the remark of Santorinus, con- 
cerning the difference of skulls, as they relate to sex. " The 
aperture of the mouth, the palate, and, in general, the parts 
which form the voice, are less in the female ; and the more 
small and round chin, consequently the under part of the 
mouth correspond." 

The round or angular form of the skull may be very power- 
fully, and essentially, turned to the advantage of the physiog- 
nomist, and become a source of innumerable individual judg- 
ments. Of this the whole work abounds with proofs and 



No man is perfectly like another, either in external con- 
struction, or internal parts, whether great or small, or in the 
system of the bones. This difference I find, not only between 
different nations, but between persons of the nearest kindred ; 
but not so great between these, and between persons of the 
same nation, as between nations remote from each other, 
whose manners and food are very different. The more confi- 
dently men converse with, the more they resemble each other, 
as well in the formation of the parts of the body, as in lan- 
guage, manners, and food ; that is, so 'far as the formation of 
the body can be influenced by external accidents. Those na- 
tions, in a certain degree, will resemblance each other that 
have commercial intercourse ; they being acted upon by the 
effects of climate, imitation and habit, which have so great an 
influence in forming the body and mind ; that is to say, the 
visible and invisible powers of man ; although national charac- 
ter still remains, and which character, in reality, is much 
easier to remark than to describe. 

We shall leave more extensive inquiries and observations, 
concerning this subject, to some such person as Kamper, and 
refrain, as becomes us ; not having obtained sufficient know- 
ledge of the subject to make remarks of our own, of sufficient 

Differences, with respect to strength, firmness, structure, 
and proportion of the parts, are certainly, visible in all the 
bones of the skeletons of different nations ; but most in the 
formation of the countenance, which every where contains the 
peculiar expression of nature ; of the mind. 

The skull of a Dutchman, for example, is in general rounder, 
with broader bones, curved and arched in all its parts, and 
with the sides less flat and compressed. 

K Calmuc skull will be more rude and gross ; flat on the 
top, prominent at the sides ; the parts firm and compressed, 
the face broad and flat. 

The skull of the Ethiopian steep, suddenly elevated ; as 
suddenly small, sharp, above the eyes ; beneath strongly pro- 
jecting ; circular, and high behind. 

In proportion as the forehead of the Calmuc is flat and low, 


that of the Ethiopian is high and narrow ; while the back part 
of an European head has a much more protuberant arch, and 
spherical form behind, than that of a Negro. 


The two following plates represent the skulls of different 

1. Is the skull of a' German, with all the marks of an Euro- 
pean head. — Is very distinct from 2, 3 V and 4. The hind part 
contains the thicker half, the fore part the thinner. The 
forehead is better arched ; neither too steep nor too round. 
The person to whom it belonged was neither stupid, nor a man 
of genius ; but a cold, considerate, industrious character. 

3. Is an East Indian skull, very distinct from the European ; 
first, by the pointed arching of the top; next, by the short 
back part ; and, lastly, the uncommonly strong bones of the 
jaw, as well as of the whole countenance. It is indubitable 
that this skull is formed for more rude and sensible, and less 
delicate and spiritual enjoyment than the former. 

2. An African, different from the two former in the nar- 
rowness of the back of the head, and the breadth of its basis, 
which consists of a very strong bone : by the short bone of the 
nose, the projecting cavity for the teeth, which occasion the 
short flat nose, and thick prominent lips of these people. I 
particularly remark the disproportion of the forehead, to the 
other parts of the profile. The arching of the forehead con- 
sidered separately, is by no means so stupid as the other parts 
evidently appear to be. 

4. Of a wandering, or Calmuc Tartar. — 

This forehead, with respect to lowness, but not position, 
resembles the forehead of a monkey. The cavities for the eyes 
are deep, the nose bone short and flat, so that it scarcely pro- 
jects further than the bones beneath, therefore the chin is the 
more prominent, which, however, consists of a considerably 
weak bone, and occasions the whole countenance to have an 


unpleasing, concave outline ; whereas, the profiles of the other 
three countenances are convex. The low forehead and deep 
sunk eye of the ape have been remarked to denote cowardice, 
and rapine. Receive it, reader, as a truth, proved by a thou- 
sand experiments, that all general concavities of profile, that 
is to say, concavities of form, betoken weak powers of mind, 
which endeavour, as all natural weaknesses do, to supply and 
conceal their deficiencies by the strength of cunning. 


We shall now consider the third plate. 

This contains five skulls, copied from Vesalius. 

I searched the best anatomical authors, and inquired of the 
best read physicians, of Gessner and Haller, whether no anato- 
mist had endeavoured to investigate the differences of the skulL 
according to the differences of the mind, or to define the rela- 
tions of the outlines. The only answer I could obtain was a 
quotation from Vesalius, with an engraving of five different 
heads, which I have copied, and which are here well deserving 
of a place. 

3. Is, according to him, the only natural form of the skull, 
which is that of an oblong spheroid, compressed at the sides, 
and prominent before and behind. 

I dare not affirm this to be the only natural form, since 
many others might be drawn, of the best made men, the out 
lines of which are much more beautiful, more proportionate, 
and more significant, than this. If, for example, the upper 
part of the forehead retreated a little more, and were the top 
and back of the skull somewhat more raised and arched, it 
would be much more perfect; though, as it is, it exhibits a 
very intelligent, thinking character. 

Vesalius distinguishes various defective forms of the skull. 

Of skull 4, he says — " The first deviation from nature is 
where the arching in front is defective." 

This flattened round outline of the forehead bone, or os 
coronale, would produce heaviness of understanding. 

" 2. The second deviation is where the projecting forward is 
defective." — The back of the head is still more unnatural. 





Were the os coronale compressed near the insertion of the 
nose, were it sharper, and less round, it would be less un- 

" 1 . The third deviation is where the prominence, both be- 
fore and behind, is wanting." This was, certainly, in every 
respect, an idiot born, as the teeth also show, especially the 
relation of the upper teeth to the chin. 

" 5. The fourth deviation is where the two projections are 
on the sides of the skull, though transversely."" — Were this 
forehead in profile entirely perpendicular, and did it not sink 
at the bottom, it would not be stupid. Stupidity is occasioned 
by the angle which is fonned by the forehead and the bone of 
the nose. 

There are many other very unnatural forms, as, for example, 
those skulls which are round, or perpendicular in profile, those 
which sink inward in the front, and those which are too much 
sunken, or too much raised at the top. 



I particularly recommend the study of the countenance, 
here annexed, to the physiognomist. How seldom do we meet 
such firm, decisive precision ; such penetrating eyes ; a nose 
like this, which, considered abstractedly, so denotes ripe, mas- 
culine understanding, or rather a sound mind ! Whenever I 
view this face, I feel anew how peculiar is the pleasure of con- 
templating a great man, or even the image of a great man. 
Can there be a more sublime, more godlike enjoyment, than 
that of understanding a noble human countenance ? 

Caspar Bauhin has copied these five kinds of skulls repre- 
sented in Plate XLIII. in his Theatrum Anatomicum ; but 
the form which he has given as the most perfect is, probably 
through the unskilfulness of the designer, as imperfect and 
unnatural, as any one of the four can be ; for, not to mention 
other defects, it is not only quite flat at the top, but this unna- 
tural flatness, also, is increased by a slight indenting. I must 
remark that, in general, most anatomists and designers have 


but a small perception of these so remarkable, and so infinitely 
important, varieties of the skull. 

" Verum Galenus alibi banc figuram excogitari quidem, non 
autem in rerum natura consistere posse affirmat ; quamvis in- 
terim Venetiis puer multis partibus deformis, ex admodum 
aniens, hac figura hodie conspicatur. Imo, apud Bononienses 
mendicus obambulat, cui caput quadratum, sed latius paullo 
quam longius contigit. Prseterea Genuse puellus annos natus 
forte tres a mendica ostiatim circumlatus est, paullo post in 
nobilissima Belgarum Brabantia ab histrionibus fuit propositus, 
cujus caput in utrumque latus protuberans duobus virorum 
capitibus grandius exstitit. 

" Genuensium, (says our author further,) et magis adhuc 
GKecorum et Turcarum capita globi fere imaginem exprimunt, 
ad hanc quoque (quam illorum non pauci elegantem et capitis 
quibus varie utuntur, tegumentis accommodam censent) obste- 
tricibus nonnunquam magna matrum solicitudine opem feren- 
tibus. Germani vero compresso plerumque occipitio et lato 
capite spectantur, quod pueri in cunis dorso semper incumbant. 
Belgis oblongiora cseteris propemodum reservantur perma- 
nentve capita, quod matres suos puerulos fasciis involutos in 
latere et temporibus potissimum dormire sinant." 

I am well convinced that violent bearings down, pressures, 
and positions, may affect the form of the head, and the under- 
standing of the child ; but I am equally well convinced that 
the inevitable pressure sustained in the birth does not injure 
the original form of the head. JSature assists herself, repairs 
the injury, and, by her labours from the internal to the ex- 
ternal, restores order. How much must the feeble nose suffer 
in birth, yet is it repaired by the internal power of nature. If 
a cartilage so yielding, and which must suffer so much, can 
restore itself, how much must the skull suffer before it shall be 
unable to recover its form, by its own firmness, elasticity, and 
internal power of life 1 How many blows and accidents must 
many children endure, without injury, at least to the form of 
their forehead ? Not but many schoolmasters and fathers will 
heavily have to answer for the stupidity of children, which has 
been the consequence of blows. 


Our author also remarks — 

" Quod non naturales vocatse capitis effigies etiani in egregie 
prudentibus (quandoquidem scilicet cerebrum nulla propria ad- 
modum indigeat figura) interdum spectentur ; etiamsi tales 
calvariae, ac potissimum suturarum specie, a naturali forma 
differentes, nobis in ccamiteriis perquam raro sese offerant, ut 
profecto subinde forsan occurrerent, si Alpium, quae Italiam 
spectant, accolarum coemiteria scrutaremur, quurn illos homines 
non dictis modo capitis figuris, sed longe etiam magis discre- 
pantibus, deformes esse audiam. ,, 


The head, or skull, of a child, drawn upon paper, without 
additional circumstance, will be generally known, and seldom 
confounded with the head of an adult. But, to keep them dis- 
tinct, it is necessary the painter should not be too hasty and 
incorrect in his observations of what is peculiar, or so fre- 
quently generalize the particular, which is the eternal error of 
painters, and of so many pretended physiognomists. 

Notwithstanding individual variety, there are certain con- 
stant signs, proper to the head of a child, which as much con- 
sist in the combination and form of the whole as in the single 

It is well known that the head is larger, in proportion to the 
rest of the body, the younger the person is ; and it seems to 
me, from comparing the skulls of the embryo, the child, and 
the man, that the part of the skull which contains the brain is 
proportionately larger than the parts that compose the jaw 
and the countenance. Hence it happens that the forehead, in 
children, especially the upper part, is generally so prominent. 
The, bones of the upper and under jaw, with the teeth they 
contain, are later in their growth, and more slowly attain per- 
fect formation. The under part of the head generally increases 
more than the upper, till it has attained full growth. Several 
processes of the bones, as the processus mamillares, which lie 
behind and under the ears, form themselves after the birth ; 
as in a great measure also do various hidden sinusses, or cavi- 


ties, in these bones. The quill-form of these bones, with their 
various points, ends, and protuberances, and the numerous 
muscles which are annexed to them, and continually in action, 
make the greater increase, and change, more possible and easy 
than can happen in the spherical bony covering of the brain, 
when once the sutures are entirely become solid. 

This unequal growth of the two principal parts of the skull 
must necessarily produce an essential difference in the whole ; 
without enumerating the obtuse extremities, the edges, sharp 
corners, and single protuberances, which are chiefly occasioned 
by the action of the muscles. 

As the man grows, the countenance below the forehead 
becomes more protuberant ; and, as the sides of the face, that 
is to say, the temple bones, which also are slow in coming to 
perfection, continually remove further from each other, the 
skull gradually loses that pear form which it appears to me to 
have had in embryo. 

The sinus frontales first form themselves after birth. The 
prominence at the bottom of the forehead, between the eye- 
brows, is likewise wanting in children ; the forehead joins the 
nose without any remarkable curve. 

This latter circumstance may also be observed in some 
grown persons, when the sinus frontales are either wanting 
or very small ; for these cavities are found very different in 
different subjects. 

The nose alters exceedingly during growth, but I am unable 
to explain in what manner the bones contribute to this altera- 
tion, it being chiefly cartilaginous. Accurately to determine 
this, many experiments on the heads and skulls of children and 
grown persons, would be necessary ; or, rather, if we could 
compare the same head with itself, at different ages, which 
might be done by the means of shades, such gradations of the 
head or heads would be of great utility to the physiognomist. 



"' </ 

' -S SB . 




Let us once more produce some skulls, in order to elucidate 
what has been said, and still more to confirm the not enough 
acknowledged truth, that the study of skulls is the only cer- 
tain foundation of physiognomy. 


Three mere shades of men's skulls. — Laugh or laugh not. 
— Facts are produced. — They must be controverted by fact ; 
every thing but fact is unworthy of the wise, contemptible to 
the lover of truth, and not to be endured by unprejudiced 
reason. Here is no complexion, feature, or motion ; yet how 
speaking are these three skulls, solely from the difference of 
the outlines. 

I here, from abstracted, absolutely certain experience, pro- 
nounce the following sentence. 

1. The most delicate, and weakest; manifestly female, and 
must by nature have had a taste for the minute, the neat, and 
the punctilious ; a spirit of restlessness and avarice ; was 
friend or enemy, as it might happen — was sagacious in trifles. 

2. Is not so weak, though still tender ; not so narrow- 

S. Is masculine : the female skull seldom has such sinus 
frontales ; it may be said never. It is the most open, candid, 
intelligent of the three ; without being a genius of the first or 
second order. 


The perpendicularity of the profile, Plate XLVI., at least 
compared with Plate XLVII., taken on the whole, appears 
to me to express a want of wit and sensibility ; but the chin, 
and the angle which the nose forms with the forehead, compen- 
sate this defect. Pertinacity, without extraordinary power, is 
evident to every observer, in the outline from the insertion of 
the nose to the top of the skull. Plate XLVII. very different 
from XLVI. The first plan of a long arched nose. How strong 
are the cavities of the retreating forehead ! How long and 


gross is the under part of the head ! How little of the delicate, 
the compressed, the compact ! What an empty, unfeeling 
being ! Craft, malice, and stupidity. 


To promote and render physiognomonical knowledge more 
precise, the human skull ought to be contemplated in every 
position, and, especially, as delineated in the annexed Plates 

The form, size, and proportion of the whole ; the more or 
less oval ; its relative height and breadth ; ought each to be 
remarked. The present skull, viewed in this position, apper- 
tains to the long, and, when viewed in front, to the short 
class ; and the space to the Sutura Coronalis is large. 

The arching in front should next be remarked, and its pro- 
minence^; it being of great, yet of easily-defined significance. 

In the skull here produced, the arching, according, at least, 
to the drawing, is very uncommon. How much more of 
power, penetration, and character would it have, were the 
curve more pure or accurate ! 

The three sutures should, in the third place, be remarked ; 
their general arching, and, particularly, their smaller configu- 
ration. I am unable to speak with precision on this subject, 
though I well know that nature, like an excellent writer, is 
accurate in her minutest parts. 

We should, fourthly, notice the under part, forming an 
arch, in this position; especially the indenting flatness, or 
concavity, near the point on which its rests. 

a In skull 1, the curve formed by the teeth should be ob- 
served ; and, from the pointed, or flat, we may deduce 
weakness or power. 

b The acuteness, or obtuseness of the upper jaw should be 

c The form and size of the aperture. 

d The strength of the bone os occipiiis capitula. 

e The processus mamillares. 

f Particularly the rigidness of the whole os occipitis. 



How different are foreheads, when viewed from above down- 
wards ; and how expressive may these differences be ! 

I imagine nature cannot speak more decisively, in the skull, 
alone, or in any part of the skull, than she does here. 

Whoever, in these foreheads, does not obtain hints for new 
discoveries, may be a good, a worthy, a useful and friendly 
man, but no physiognomist. — Is it necessary that all men 
should be physiognomists ? 

The first outline is that, not of a stupid, but of a man of 
very ordinary capacity. 

The second of a very intelligent man. 

The third is after a bust, in plaster, of Locke. 

The more we consider the human body, and the more we 
vary its position, to examine its outlines, the more shall we 
discover of the character of the mind by which it is inhabited, 
and of assignable, and precise, tokens of its power and 

I am of opinion that man, considered under every aspect, 
even though but in shade, from head to foot, before, behind, 
in profile, half profile, quarter profile, will afford opportunities 
of making the most new and important discoveries of the all 
significance of the human body. 

I hold it to be the simplest way to take the shades of heads 
of persons whose characters I know, rather than to consider 
those known to me only physiognomonically ; and whose 
characters, likewise, were remarkably different. 

I chose, therefore, three bare heads, of very different ca- 
pacities, and found the difference of their outlines great 

Fig. 4. — Is rather a very industrious, than a very quick 
acting man ; of a calm, noble, compassionate character ; firm, 
simple, profound; whose reason can with difficulty be im- 
posed upon : in wit inexhaustible ; not brilliant, but therefore 
the deeper : weaker of memory. 

Fig. 5. — Is the head of poetry, of genius; but calm reason, 



and, probably, also precision of understanding and penetration, 
are wanting.* 

Fig. 6. — Is, in every respect, completely stupid. The com- 
pressed sides, the short neck, the egg-formed, pointed head, 
are strikingly remarkable, 

I have observed that the bare head which is circular, when 
seen behind, is the best ; the flat denotes mediocrity, often 
weakness ; and the gradually pointed, or conical, folly. 

Twelve outlines, Figs. 1 — 12, of idiots given promiscuously, 
without eyes, or additional lineaments. Who would seek, who 
could find wisdom in any such countenances ? Were they all 
animated, of which would any man ask advice ? Would not 
the world pronounce that painter ridiculous who should give 
such a profile to a Solon, or a Solomon ? Would not each 
accurate observer of the human countenance distinguish these 
natural idiots from such as might have become idiotical, in con- 
sequence of sickness, or accident? 1, might have been wise, 
perhaps, but could 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, ever have been so? And 
would it not be affectation in any philosopher to answer, — " I 
do not know : wretched mortal, how knowest thou ? Might 
not God have pleased to have permitted any one of these 
profiles to have written the theory of light f At the bottom 
of Plate L., are given four arbitrary profiles, not drawn after 
nature. — Excellent understanding is conspicuous in l,and 2, 
and diversity of understanding, and of the powers of the mind, 
in both. — In 3, and 4, extreme weakness ; in 4, more than in 
3. We can as little resist these impressions as we could the 
voice of God. Experienced or inexperienced alike will deter- 
mine, as if from instinct. The general perception of truth, 
that noblest of our faculties, I might say, that voice of God, 
which, like an oracle, speaks in man, whether with or without 
his knowledge, that irresistible something which defies reason- 
ing, call it what we please, is thus decisive. And how decides ? 

* By understanding, I mean the capacity of perceiving and defining 
the signs of things, and what are, or what are not, their adjuncts. 

By reason, the capacity of perceiving and defining the things themselves, 
and what are, or are not, their adjuncts. 


From gesture, appearance, look, motion ? No, from mere mo- 
tionless, lifeless outlines. 


" 1 am as clearly convinced of the truth of physiognomy as 
Lavater, and of the all-significance of each limb and feature. 
True it is that the mind may be read in the lineaments of the 
body, and its motions in their shades.-f- 

" Connexion and harmony, cause and effect, exist through 
all nature ; therefore, between the external and internal of 
man. Our form is influenced by our parents, by the earth on 
which we walk, the sun that warms us with its rays, the food 
that assimilates itself with our substance, the incidents that 
determine the fortunes of our lives : these all modify, repair, 
and chisel forth the body, and the marks of the tool are appa- 
rent both in body and mind. Each arching, each sinuosity of 
the external, adapts itself to the individuality of the internal. 
It is adherent, and pliable, like wet drapery. Were the nose 
but little altered, Csesar would not be the Csesar with whom we 
are acquainted. 

" When the soul is in motion, it shines through the body as 
the moon through the ghosts of Ossian ; each passion through- 
out the human race has ever the same language." — From east 
to west, envy no where looks with the satisfied air of mag- 
nanimity ; nor will discontent appear like patience. Wherever 
patience is, there is it expressed by the same signs ; as like- 
wise are anger, envy, and every other passion. — " Philoctetes 
certainly expresses not the sensation of pain like a scourged 
slave. The angels of Raphael must smile more nobly than the 

* M. Sturtz. 

+ Es ist wahr dass sich der umriss der seele in den wolbungen ihres 
schleyers bildet, und ihre bewegung in den falten ihres kleides. Literally, 
It is true, that the outline of the soul forms itself in the arching of its 
veil, and its motion in the folds of its garment 



angels of Rembrandt ; but joy and pain still have each their 
peculiar expression ; they act according to peculiar laws upon 
peculiar muscles and nerves, however various may be the shades 
of their expression ; and the oftener the passion is repeated, or 
get in motion, the more it becomes a propensity, a favourite 
habit ; the deeper will be the furrows it ploughs. 

" But inclination, capacity, modes and gradations of capa- 
city, talents, and an ability for business, lie much more con- 
cealed." — Very true, but having discovered the signs of these, 
how much of what cannot be mistaken shall we meet with in 
every object we observe ! — " A good observer will discover the 
wrathful, the voluptuous, the proud, the discontented, the ma- 
lignant, the benevolent, and the compassionate, with little 
difficulty." — Most true ! — " But the philosopher, the poet, the 
artist, and their various partitions of genius, he will be unable 
to determine with equal accuracy. And it will be still more 
difficult to assign the feature or trait in which the token of each 
quality is seated ; whether understanding be in the eye-bone, 
wit in the chin, and poetical genius in the mouth." — Yet I 
hope, I believe, nay, I know, that the present century shall 
render this possible. The penetrating author of this essay 
would not only have found it possible, but would have per- 
formed it himself, had he only set apart a single day to com- 
pare and examine a well-arranged collection of characters, 
either in nature, or well-painted portraits. — " Our attention is 
always excited whenever we meet with a remarkable man, and 
we all are, more or less, empirical physiognomists. We per- 
ceive in the aspect, the mien, the smile, the mechanism of the 
forehead, sometimes malice, sometimes wit, at others penetra- 
tion. We expect and presage, from the impulse of latent sen- 
sation, very determined qualities, from the form of each new 
acquaintance ; and, when this faculty of judging is improved 
by an intercourse with the world, we often succeed to admira- 
tion in our judgment on strangers. 

" Is this feeling, internal, unacquired sensation, which is 
inexplicable ; or is it comparison, indication, conclusion from 
a character that we have examined to another which we have 
not, and occasioned by some external resemblance ? Feeling 


is the aegis of enthusiasts and fools, and, though it may often 
be conformable to truth, is still neither demonstration, nor 
confirmation of truth ; but induction is judgment founded on 
experience, and this way only will I study physiognomy. 

" I meet many strangers, with an air of friendship ; 1 re- 
cede from others with cool politeness, although there is no 
expression of passion to attract, or to disgust. On further 
examination, I always found that I have seen in them some 
trait either of a worthy or a worthless person, with whom I 
was before acquainted. A child, in my opinion, acts from like 
motives, when he evades, or is pleased with, the caresses of 
strangers ; except that he is actuated by more trifling signs ; 
perhaps by the colour of the clothes, the tone of the voice ; or, 
often, by some motion, which he has observed in the parent, 
the nurse, or the acquaintance." 

This cannot be denied to be often the case ; much more 
often than is commonly supposed ; yet I make no doubt of 
being able to prove that there are, in nature and art, a multi- 
tude of traits, especially of the extremes of passionate, as well 
as dispassionate faculties, which of themselves, and without 
comparison with former experiments, are, with certainty, in- 
telligible to the most unpractised observer. I believe it to be 
incorporated in the nature of man, in the organization of our 
eyes and ears, that he should be attracted or repulsed, by cer- 
tain countenances, as well as by certain tones. Let a child, 
who has seen but a few men, view the open jaws of a lion, 01 
tiger, and the smile of a benevolent person, and his nature will, 
infallibly, shrink from the one, and meet the smile of benevo- 
lence with a smile ; not from reason and comparison, but from 
the original feelings of nature. For the same reason, we listen 
with pleasure to a delightful melody and shudder at discordant 
shrieks ; as little as there is of comparison or consideration, 
on such an occasion, so is there equally little on the first sight 
of an extremely pleasing, or an extremely disgusting counte- 

" It is not, therefore, mere sensation, since I have good 
reason, when I meet a person, who resembles Turenne, to ex- 
pect sagacity, cool resolution, and ardent enterprise. If, in 


three men, I find one possessed of the eyes of Turenne, and 
the same marks of prudence ; another with his nose, and high 
courage ; the third with his mouth and activity ; I then have 
ascertained the seat where each quality expresses itself, and 
am justified in expecting similar qualities wherever I meet 
similar features. Had we, for centuries past, examined the 
human form, arranged characteristic features, compared traits, 
and exemplified inflexions, lines, and proportions, and had we 
added explanations to each, then would our Chinese alphabet 
of the race of man be complete, and we need but open it to 
find the interpretation of any countenance. Whenever I in- 
dulge the supposition that such an elementary work is not 
absolutely impossible, I expect more from it than even Lavater. 
I imagine we may obtain a language so rich, and so determi- 
nate, that it shall be possible, from description only, to restore 
the living figure ; and that an accurate description of the 
mind shall give the outline of the body, so that the physiogno- 
mist, studying some future Plutarch, shall regenerate great 
men, and the ideal form shall, with facility, take birth from the 
given definition." Excellent ! — And, be the author in jest or 
earnest, this is what I, entirely, without dreaming, and most 
absolutely expect from the following century, for which pur- 
pose, with God's good pleasure, I will hazard some essays, 
when I shall speak on physiognomonical lines. 

" With these ideal forms shall the chambers of future princes 
be hung, and he who comes to solicit employment shall retire 
without murmuring, when it is proved to him that he is ex- 
cluded by his nose." — Laugh or laugh not, friends or enemies 
of truth, this will, this must, happen. — " By degrees I imagine 
to myself a new, and another world, whence error and deceit 
shall be banished." — Banished they would be were physiog- 
nomy the universal religion, were all men accurate observers, 
and were not dissimulation obliged to recur to new arts, by 
which physiognomy, at least for a time, may be rendered 
erroneous. — ■" We have to inquire whether we should there- 
fore be happier . ,1 — Happier we should certainly be ; although 
the present contest between virtue and vice, sincerity and dis- 
simulation, which so contributes to the development of the 


grand faculties of man, renders, as I may say, human virtue 
divine, exalting it to heaven. — " Truth is ever found in the 
medium ; we will not hope too little from physiognomy, nor 
will we expect too much. — Here torrents of objections break 
in upon me, some of which I am unable to answer. 

" Do so many men in reality resemble each other ? Is not 
the resemblance general ; and, when particularly examined, 
does it not vanish ; especially, if the resembling persons be 
compared feature by feature ? 

" Does it not happen that one feature is in direct contradic- 
tion to another ; that a fearful nose is placed between eyes 
which betoken courage V 

In the firm parts, or those capable of sharp outlines, ac- 
cidents excepted, I have never yet found contradictory fea- 
tures ; but often have between the firm and the flexible, or 
the ground-form of the flexible and their apparent situation. 
By ground-fern I mean to say that which is preserved after 
death, unless distorted by violent disease. 

" It is far from being proved that resemblance of form 
universally denotes resemblance of mind. In families where 
there is most resemblance, there are often the greatest varieties 
of mind. I have known twins, not to be distinguished from 
each other, between whose minds there was not the least 
similarity." — If this be literally true, I will renounce physiog- 
nomy ; and, to whoever shall convince me of it, I will give my 
copy of these fragments, and a hundred physiognomonical 

Nor will I be my own judge, I leave it to the worthy author 
of this remark to choose three arbitrators ; let them examine 
the fact, accurately, and, if they confirm it, I will own my 
error. Shades, however, of these twin brothers, will first be 
necessary. In all the experiments I have made, I declare, upon 
my honour, I have never made any such remark. 

" And how shall we be able to explain the innumerable ex- 
ceptions which almost overwhelm rule ? I will only produce 
some from my own observation. Dr. Johnson had the appear- 
ance of a porter ; not the glance of the eye, not any trait of 
the mouth, speak the man of penetration, or of science." 


When a person of our author's penetration and judgment 
thus affirms, I must hesitate, and say, he has observed this, 
I have not. — But how does it happen that, in more than ten 
years' observation, I have never met any such example ? I have 
seen many men, especially in the beginning of my physiogno- 
monical studies, whom I supposed to be men of sense, and who 
were not so ; but never, to the best of my knowledge, did I 
meet a wise man whom I supposed a fool. In Plate I. is an 
engraving of Johnson. Can a countenance more tranquilly fine 
be imagined, one that more possesses the sensibility of under- 
standing, planning, scrutinizing I In the eye-brows, only, and 
their horizontal position, how great is the expression of pro- 
found, exquisite, penetrating understanding ! 

" Hume's was the countenance of a common man." 

So says common report ; I have no answer but that I sus- 
pect the aspect, or flexible features, on which most observers 
found their physiognomonical judgment, have, as I may say, 
effaced the physiognomy of the bones ; as, for example, the 
outline and arching of the forehead, to which scarcely one in 
a hundred direct their attention. 

" Churchill had the look of a drover ; Goldsmith of a sim- 
pleton ; and the cold eyes of Strange do not indicate the 
artist." — The greatest artists have often the coldest eyes. 
The man of genius and the artist are two persons. Phlegm 
is the inheritance of the mere artist. — " Who would say that 
the apparent ardour of Wille speaks the man who passed his 
life in drawing parallel lines V — Ardour and phlegm are not 
incompatible : the most ardent men are the coolest. Scarcely 
any observation has been so much verified as this ; it appears 
contradictory, but is not. Ardent, quickly determining, re- 
solute, laborious, and boldly enterprising men, the moments of 
ardour excepted, have the coolest of minds. The style and 
countenance of Wille, if the profile portrait of him which 1 
have is a likeness, have this character in perfection. 

" Boucher, the painter of the Graces, has the aspect of an 
executioner. 11 — Truly so. Such was the portrait I received. 
But then, my good Mr. Sturtz, let us understand what is meanl 
by these painters of the Graces. I find as little in his works. 


as in his countenance. None of the paintings of Boucher 
were at all to my taste. I could not contemplate one of them 
con amore, and his countenance had the same effect. I can 
now comprehend, said I, on the first sight of his portrait, why 
I have never heen pleased with the works of Boucher. 

" I saw a criminal condemned to the wheel, who, with 
satanic wickedness, had murdered his benefactor, and who yet 
had the benevolent and open countenance of an angel of Guido. 
Tt is not impossible to discover the head of a Regulus among 
guilty criminals, or of a vestal in the house of correction."— 
This I can, from experience, confirm. Far be contradiction 
from me on this subject. But such vicious persons, however 
hateful with respect to the appearance and effect of their 
actions, or even to their internal motives, were not originally 
wicked. Where is the pure, the noble, finely-formed, easily 
irritated man, with angelic sensibility, who has not bis devilish 
moments, in which, were not opportunity happily wanting, he 
might, in one hour, be guilty of some two or three vices which 
should exhibit him, apparently at least, as the most detestable 
of men ; yet may be be a thousand times better and nobler 
than numerous men of subaltern minds, held to be good, who 
never were capable of committing acts so wicked, for the com- 
mission of which they so loudly condemn him, and for the 
good of society are in duty bound to condemn ? 

" Lavater will answer, Show me these men, and I will com- 
ment upon them, as I have done upon Socrates. Some small, 
often unremarked trait, will, probably, explain what appears to 
you so enigmatical. 

" But will not something creep into the commentary which 
never was in the text ? " 

This may, but ought not to happen. I will also grant that a 
man with a good countenance may act like a rogue ; but, in 
the first place, at such a moment, his countenance will not ap- 
pear good ; and, in the next, he will infinitely oftener act like 
a man of worth. 

" Ought we from a known character to draw conclusions 
concerning one unknown? — Or, is it easy to discover what 
that being is who wanders in darkness, and dwells in the house 


of contradiction ; who is one creature to-day, and to-morrow 
the very reverse \ For how seldom do we find a man 

" Qui 

Qualis ab initio processerit et sibi constet ? " 

How true, how important is this ! How necessary a beacon 
to warn and terrify the physiognomist ! 

" What should we think of Augustus, if we were only 
acquainted with his conduct to China ; or of Cicero, if we 
knew him only from his consulate ? How gigantic rises Eliza- 
beth among queens, yet how little, how mean was the super- 
annuated coquette ! James II., a bold general and a cowardly 
king ! Monk, the revenger of monarchs, the slave of his wife .' 
Algernon Sidney and Russell, patriots worthy Rome, sold to 
France ! Bacon, the father of wisdom, a bribed judge ! — 
Such discoveries make us shudder at the aspect of man, and 
shake off friends and intimates like coals of fire from the 

" When such chameleon minds can be at one moment great, 
at another contemptible, and yet not alter their form, what 
can that form say ? " 

Their form shows what they may, what they ought to be ; 
and their aspect, in the moment of action, what they are. 
Their countenance shows their power, and their aspect the 
application of their power. The expression of their littleness 
may probably be like the spots of the sun, invisible to the 
naked eye. 

" Is not our judgment tinged by that medium through 
which we are accustomed to look?" — Oh yes, yes, yes! — 
" Smellfungus views all objects through a blackened glass ; 
another through a prism. Many contemplate virtue through 
a diminishing, and vice through a magnifying, medium. 1 '' — 
How excellently expressed ! 

" A work by Swift, on physiognomy, would certainly have 
been very different from that of Lavater. 

" National physiognomy is still a large uncultivated field. 
The families of the four classes of the race of Adam from the 
Esquimaux to the Greeks. In Europe — in Germany alone, 
what varieties are there which can escape no observer ! Heads 


bearing the stamp of the form of government, which ever will 
influence education ; republican haughtiness, proud of its laws ; 
the pride of the slave who feels pride because he has the 
power of inflicting the scourges he has received ; Greeks under 
Pericles, and under Hassan Pacha ; Romans, in a state of 
freedom, governed by emperors, and governed by popes ; 
Englishmen under Henry VIII. and Cromwell ! — How have I 
been struck by the portraits of Hampden, Pym, and Vane. — 
Hancock and Lord North ! — All produce varieties of beauty, 
according to the different nations." 

I cannot express how much I am indebted to the author of 
this spirited and energetic essay. How worthy an act was it 
in him whom I had unintentionally offended, concerning whom 
I had published a judgment far from sufficiently noble, to send 
me this essay, with liberty to make what use of it I pleased ! 
In such a manner, in such a spirit, may informations, correc- 
tions, or doubts, be ever conveyed to me ! — Shall I need to 
apologize for having inserted it \ Or, rather, will not most of 
my readers say, give us more such. 



" Some are wise and appear not to be so ; others appear 
wise and are not so : some, again, are not, and appear not to 
be wise ; and others are wise, and also appear to be wise." 

Instead of this obscure remark, add the following. — The phy- 
siognomist will never overlook the signs of wisdom which exist 
in a countenance that may be supposed foolish, although it be 
really wise ; he will not be so mistaken : he will be able to in- 
vestigate them all, and arrange them according to these four 



" The son is often brought in debtor to the great under- 
standing of the father." 

I know not whether I have or have not elsewhere made 
this remark, but it seems a general law of nature to interrupt 
the propagation of great minds. 



" Wisdom in infancy denotes folly in manhood." 

"No aid can make, those bring forth who are not pregnant." 
Expect not, therefore, fruit where seed has not been sown. 
How advantageous, how important, would physiognomy be- 
come, were it, by being acquainted with every sign of intellec- 
tual and moral pregnancy, enabled to render aid to all the 
pregnant, and to the pregnant only ! 


" The external form of the head is what it ought to be, 
when it resembles a hollow globe slightly compressed at the 
sides, with a small protuberance at the forehead, and back of 
the head. A very flat forehead, or a sudden descent at the 
back of the head, are no good tokens of understanding." 

Notwithstanding the compressure, the profile of such a head 
would be more circular than oval. The profile of a good head 
ought to form a circle combined only when with the nose ; 
therefore without the nose, it approaches much more to the 
oval than the circular. " A very flat forehead," says our au- 
thor, " is no sign of good understanding." True, if the flatness 
resembles that of the ox. But I have seen perfectly flat fore- 
heads, let me be rightly understood, I mean flat only between 
and above the eye-brows, in men of great wisdom. Much, 
indeed, depends upon the position and curve of the outline of 
the forehead. 


" No animal has so much brain as man. Were the quan- 
tity of brain in two of the largest oxen compared to the quan- 
tity found in the smallest man, it would prove to be less. The 
nearer reason, the more brain." 

" Large oranges have thick skins, and little juice. Heads 
of much bone and flesh have little brain. Large bones, with 
abundance of flesh and fat, are impediments to mind. v 



" The heads of wise persons are very weak, and susceptible 
of the most minute impressions." 

Often, not always. And how wise I Wise to plan, but not 
to execute. Active wisdom must have harder bones. One of 
the greatest of this earth's wonders is a man in whom the 
two qualities are united ; who has sensibility even to painful 
excess, and colossal courage to resist the impetuous torrent, 
the whirlpool, by which he shall be assailed. Such characters 
possess sensibility from the tenderness of bodily feeling ; and 
strength, not so much in the bones, as in the nerves. 


" Galen says, a thick belly a thick understanding. 1 ' — And I 
with equal truth, or falsehood, may add, a thin belly a thin 
understanding. Remarks so general, which would prove so 
many able and wise men to be fools, I value but little. A thick 
belly certainly is no positive token of understanding. It is 
rather positive for sensuality, which is detrimental to the un- 
derstanding ; but abstractedly, and unconnected with other 
indubitable marks, I cannot receive this as a general pro- 


" Aristotle holds the smallest heads to be the wisest." — But 
this, with all reverence for so great a man, I think was spoken 
without reflection. Let a small head be imagined on a great 
body, or a great head on a small body, each of which may be 
found in consequence of accidents that excite or retard growth ; 
and it will be perceived that, without some more definite dis- 
tinction, neither the large nor the small head is, in itself, wise 
or foolish. It is true that large heads, with short triangular 
foreheads, are foolish; as are those large heads which are 
fat, and incumbered with flesh ; but small, particularly round 
heads, with the like incumbrance, are intolerably foolish; and, 
generally, possess that which renders their intolerable folly 
more intolerable, a pretension to wisdom. 



" Small persons are the better for having a head somewhat 
large, and large persons when the head is somewhat small." 

This may be suffered while it extends no further than some- 
what, but the best, certainly, is when the head is in such pro- 
portion to the body, that it is not remarkable either by being 
large or small. 


" Memory and imagination resemble the understanding, as 
a monkey does a man." 


" It is of no consequence to the genius whether the flesh 
be hard or tender, if the brain do not partake of the same 
quality ; for experience tells us, that the latter is very often 
of a different temperament to the other parts of the body : 
but when both the brain and the flesh are tender, they betoken 
ill to the understanding, and equally ill to the imagination." 


" The fluids which render the flesh tender, are phlegm and 
blood ; and these being moist, according to Galen, render men 
simple and stupid. The fluids, on the contrary, which harden 
the flesh, are choler and melancholy (or bile), and these gene- 
rate wisdom and understanding. It is therefore a much worse 
sign to have tender flesh than rough ; and tender signifies a bad 
memory, with weakness of understanding and imagination." 

If I may so say, there is an intelligent tenderness of flesh, 
which announces much more understanding than do the oppo- 
site qualities of rough and hard, I can no more class coriaceous 
flesh as the characteristic of understanding, than I can tender- 
ness of flesh, without being more accurately defined, as the 
characteristic of folly. It will be proper to distinguish be- 
tween tender and porous, or spungy ; and between rough and 
firm, without hardness. It is true that the spungy is less 
substantial than the firm flesh. " Quorum perdura caro est, 
ii tardo ingenio sunt ; quorum autem mollis est. ingeniosi." — 


Aristot. Lib. III. What contradiction ! which, however, 
vanishes, if we translate per dura coriaceous and rough, and 
mollis, fine, not porous, tender. 


" To discover whether the quality of the brain corresponds 
with the flesh, we must examine the hair. If this be black, 
strong, rough, and thick, it betokens strength of imagination 
and understanding.'" — Oh no ! Let not this be expressed in 
such general terms. I, at this moment, recollect a very weak 
man, by nature weak, with exactly such hair. This roughness 
(sprodigkeit) is a fatal word, which, taken in what sense it 
will, never signifies any thing good. — " But, if the hair be 
tender and weak, it denotes nothing more than goodness of 
memory." — Once more too little ; it denotes a finer organi- 
zation, which receives the impression of images at least as 
strongly as the signs of images. 


" When the hair is of the first quality, and we would further 
distinguish whether it betokens goodness of understanding, or 
imagination, we must pay attention to the laugh. Laughter 
betrays the quality of the imagination." — And, I add, of the 
understanding, of the heart, of power, love, hatred, pride, 
humility, truth, and falsehood. Would I had artists who 
would watch for, and design, the outlines of laughter ! The 
physiognomy of laughter would be the best of elementary 
books for the knowledge of man. If the laugh be good, so is 
the person. It is said of Christ that he never laughed. I 
believe it, but had he never smiled, he would not have been 
human. The smile of Christ must have contained the precise 
outline of brotherly love. 


" Heraclitus says, 'Avyr) i,r\pr\ i>vyr\ aocporarr} — A dry eye, a 
wise mind." 


" We shall find few men of great understanding who write 

s * 



a fine hand." — It might have been said, with more accuracy, 
a schoolmaster's hand. 


This essay is written with much intelligence, much orna- 
ment, and a mild, diffusive eloquence. It is the work of a very 
learned, penetrating, and, in many respects, highly merito- 
rious person ; who appears to possess much knowledge of men, 
and a large portion of the prompt spirit of observation. His 
essay, therefore, deserves the utmost attention and investiga- 
tion. It is so interesting, so comprehensive, affords so much 
opportunity of remark for the physiognomist, and of remarks 
which I have yet to make, that I shall here cite the most 
important passages, and submit them to an unprejudiced, 
accurate, examination. 

Far ba it from me to compare myself with the excellent 
author, to make any pretension to his fanciful and brilliant 
wit, and, still less, to his learning and penetration. Though I 
could wish, I dare not hope, to meet and answer him with the 
same elegance as his polished mind and fine taste seem to 
demand. I feel those wants which are peculiar to myself, and 
which must remain mine, even when I have truth on my side. 
Yet, worthy sir, be assured that I shall never be unjust, and 
that, even where I cannot assent to your observations, I shall 
never forget the esteem I owe your talents, learning, and 

Let us, in supposition, sit down, in friendship, with your 
essay before us, and, with that benevolence which is most 
becoming men, philosophers especially, explain our mutual 
sentiments concerning nature and truth. 


" Certainly (says our author) the freedom of thought, and 
the very recesses of the heart, were never more severely scru- 
tinized than in the present ag/." 

It appears to me that, a^-the very beginning, an improper 



point of view is taken, which, probably, may lead the author 
and reader astray through the whole essay. For my own 
part, at least, T know of no attacks on the freedom of thought, 
or the secret recesses of the heart. It is universally known 
that my labours have been less directed to this than to the 
knowledge of predominant character, capacities, talents, 
powers, inclinations, activity, genius, religion, sensibility, irri- 
tability, and elasticity of men in general, and not to the disco- 
very of actual and present thought. As far as I am concerned, 
the soul may, and can, in our ingenious author's own words, 
" brood as secretly over its treasures as it might have done 
centuries ago ; may as tranquilly smile at the progress of 
all Babylonian works, at all proud assailants of heaven, con- 
vinced that, long before the completion of their work, there 
shall be a confusion of tongues, and the master and the 
labourers shall be scattered." 

Nobody would laugh more than I, at the arrogance of that 
physiognomist who should pretend to read in the countenance 
the most secret thoughts and motions of the soul, at any given 
moment, although there are moments in which they are legible 
to the most unpractised physiognomist. 

In my opinion, likewise, the secrets of the heart belong to 
pathognomy, to which I direct my attention much less than 
to physiognomy ; on which the author says, more wittily than 
truly, " it is as unnecessary to write as on the art of love." 

The author is very right in reminding us " that we ought 
to seek physiognomical instruction from known characters 
with great caution, and even diffidence." 

" Whether physiognomy, in its utmost perfection, would 
promote philanthropy, is at least questionable." — I confidently 
answer unquestionable, and I hope immediately to induce the 
reasonable and philanthropic author to say the same. 

Physiognomy, in its utmost perfection, must mean the 
knowledge of man in it's utmost perfection. — And shall not 
this promote the love of man \ Or, shall it not, in other 
words, discover innumerable perfections, which the half physi- 
ognomist, or he who is not a physiognomist, cannot discern ? 



Noble and penetrating friend of man, while writing this, you 
had forgotten what you had so truly, so beautifully said, "that 
the most hateful deformity might, by the aid of virtue, acquire 
irresistible charms." — And to whom more irresistible, more 
legible, than to the perfect physiognomist? — Irresistible 
charms, surely, promote love rather than hatred. 

From my own experience, I can sincerely declare that the 
improvement of my physiognomonical knowledge has extended 
and increased the power of love in my heart. 

And though this knowledge may, sometimes, occasion afflic- 
tion, still it is ever true that the affliction occasioned by cer- 
tain countenances endears, sanctifies, and renders enchanting, 
whatever is noble and lovely, which often glows in the human 
countenance, like embers among ashes. My attention to the 
discovery of this secret goodness is increased, and the object 
of my labours is its increase and improvement ; and how do 
esteem and love extend themselves, wherever I perceive a pre- 
ponderance of goodness ! — On a more accurate observation, 
likewise, the very countenances that afflict me, and which, for 
some moments, incense me against humanity, do but increase a 
tolerant and benevolent spirit ; for I then discern the nature 
and the force of that sensuality, against which they have to 

All truth, all knowledge of what is, of what acts upon us, and 
on which we act, promotes general and individual happiness. 
Whoever denies this is incapable of investigation. The more 
perfect this knowledge, the greater are its advantages. 

Whatever profits, whatever promotes happiness, promotes 
philanthropy. Where are happy men to be found without phi- 
lanthropy ? Are such beings possible ? 

Were happiness and philanthropy to be destroyed, or less- 
ened, by any perfect science, truth would war with truth, and 
eternal wisdom with itself. 

The man who can seriously maintain, " that a perfect 
science may be detrimental to human society, or may not pro- 
mote philanthropy," (without which, happiness among men 
cannot be supposed,) is certainly not a man in whose company 
our author would wish to philosophize ; as certainly will he, 


with me, assume it as an axiom, that, " The nearer truth, the 
nearer happiness." 

The more our knowledge and judgment resemble the know- 
ledge and judgment of the Deity, the more will our philan- 
thropy resemble the philanthropy of the Deity. 

He who knows how man is formed, who remembers that he 
is but dust, is the most tolerant friend of man. 

Angels I believe to be better physiognomists, and more phi- 
lanthropic, than men ; although they may perceive in us a 
thousand failings and imperfections, which may escape the most 
penetrating eye of man. 

God, having the most knowledge of spirit, is the most tole- 
rant of spirits. 

And who was more tolerant, more affectionate, more lenient, 
more merciful, than thou, who " needest not that any should 
testify of man, for thou knewest what was in man I " 

" It is certain that the industrious, the insinuating, and 
active blockheads, in physiognomy, may do much injury to 

And as certainly, worthy sir, it is my earnest desire, my 
known endeavour, to deter such blockheads from studying 

As certainly, can this evil only be prevented by accurate 

Equally certain is it, that every science may become danger- 
ous, when studied by the superficial, and the foolish ; and the 
very reverse when studied by the accurate, and the wise. 
According to your own principles, therefore, we must agree 
in this, that none but the superficial, the blockhead, the fana- 
tical enemy of knowledge and learning, in general, can wish to 
prevent "all investigation of physiognomonical principles;' 
none but such a person " can oppose physiognomonical la- 
bours ;" none but a blockhead will suppose it unworthy and 
impracticable, " in these degenerate days, to awaken sensi- 
bility, and the spirit of observation, or to improve the arts, 
and the knowledge of men." To gT-ant all this, as you, sir, do, 
and yet to speak with bitterness against physiognomy, and 
physiognomists, I call sowing tares among good seed. 


" To obviate old misunderstandings, and avoid new," the 
author distinguishes " between physiognomy and pathognomy. 
Physiognomy" he defines to be " a capability of discovering 
the qualities of the mind, and heart, from the form and qua- 
lities of the external parts of the body, especially the counte- 
nance, exclusive of all transitory signs of the motions of the 
mind ; and pathognomy, the whole semeiotica of the passions, 
or the knowledge of the natural signs of the motions of the 
mind, according to all their gradation and combinations." 

I assent to this distinction, entirely, and likewise subscribe 
to these given definitions. 

It is next asked, is there physiognomy ? Is there pathog- 
nomy ? To the latter the author justly replies, " This no one 
ever yet denied, for what would all theatrical representations 
be without it ? The languages of all ages and nations abound 
with pathognomonical remarks, and with which they are in- 
separably interwoven." (Page 13.) 

But, read the work as often as I will, I cannot discover 
whether the author does or does not grant the reality of phy- 
siognomy. — In one passage, the author very excellently, says, 
(page 3,) " No one will deny that, in a world where all things 
are cause and effect, and where miracles are not to be found, 
each part is a mirror of the whole. We are often able to 
conclude from what is near to what is distant, from what is 
visible to what is invisible, from the present to the past and 
the future. Thus the history of the earth is written, in 
nature's characters, in the form of each tract of country, of 
its sand, hills, and rocks. Thus each shell on the sea-shore 
proclaims the once included mind, connected, like the mind of 
man, with this shell : thus, also, might the internal of man be 
expressed, by the external, on the countenance, concerning 
which we particularly mean to speak. Signs and traces of 
thought, inclination, and capacity, must be perceptible. How 
visible are the tokens impressed upon the body by trade and 
climate ! Yet, what are trade and climate compared to the 
ever active soul, creative in every fibre ; of whose absolute 
legibility from all and to all, no one doubts?" (Page 4.) 

From all mankind, rather than from the writer of this very 


excellent passage, should I have expected the following — 
"What ! the physiognomist will exclaim, can the soul of New 
ton reside in the head of a negro, or an angelic mind in a 
fiendlike form?" 

"Shallow stream of youthful declamation! 1 ' 

As little could I have expected this passage — " Talents, 
and the endowments of the mind, in general, are not expressed 
by any signs in the firm parts of the head." 

Never in my life have I met with any thing more contradic- 
tory to nature, and to each other, than the foregoing and the 
following paragraphs. 

" If a pea were thrown into the Mediterranean, an eye 
more piercing than ours, though infinitely less penetrating 
than the eye of Him who sees all things, might perceive the 
effects j^oduced on the coast of China." — These are our au- 
thor's very words. 

And shall the whole living powers of the soul, " creative in 
every fibre," have no determinate influence on the firm parts, 
those boundaries of its activity, which first were yielding, and 
acted upon, impressed, by every muscle ; which resemble each 
other in no human bedy, which are as various as characters 
and talents, and are as certainly different as the most flexible 
parts of man ? Shall the whole powers of the soul, I say, 
have no determinate influence on these, or not by these be 
defined ? 

But to avoid the future imputation of indulging the shallow 
stream of youthful declamation ; instead of producing facts, 
and principles deduced from experience; 

Let us oppose experience to declamation, and facts to sub- 

But first a word, that we may perfectly remove a degree of 
ambiguity which I should not have expected from the accuracy 
of a mathematician. 

" Why not," asks the author, " Why not the soul of New- 
ton in the head of a negro ? Why not an angel mind in a 
fiendlike form? Who, reptile, empowered thee to judge of 
the works of God f 

Let us be rightly understood; we do not speak here of 


what God can do, but of what is to be expected, from the 
knowledge we have of his works. We ask what the Author 
of order actually does ; and not whether the soul of Newton 
can exist in the body of a negro, or an angel soul in a fiend- 
like form. The physiognomonical question is, can an angel's 
soul act the same in a fiendlike body, as in an angelic body ? 
Or, in other words, could the mind of Newton have invented 
the theory of light, residing in the head of a negro, thus and 
thus defined I 

Such is the question. 

And will you, sir, the friend, as you are, of truth, will you 
answer, it might ? You, who have previously said of the 
world, "All things in it are cause and effect, and miracles are 
not to be found." 

I were indeed a reptile, judging the works of God, did I 
maintain its impossibility by miracle ; but the question, at 
present, is not concerning miracles ; it is concerning natural 
cause and effect. 

Having thus clearly stated the argument, permit me, sir, 
to decide it, by quoting your own words. — " Judas scarcely 
could be that dirty, deformed mendicant painted by Holbein.* 
No hypocrite, who associates with the good, betrays with a 
kiss, and afterwards hangs himself, looks thus. My experience 
leads me to suppose Judas must have been distinguished by 
an insinuating countenance, and an ever ready smile." — How 
true! How excellent! Yet what if I were to exclaim, — 
"Who empowered thee, reptile, to judge of the works of 
God? 11 — What if I were to retort the following just remark, 
— "Tell me, first, why a virtuous mind is so often doomed to 
exist in an infirm body ? Might not, also, were it God's good 
pleasure, a virtuous man have a countenance like the beggarly 
Jew of Holbein, or any other that can be imagined?"" But 
can this be called wise or manly reasoning? How wide is the 
difference between the suffering and disgusting virtue ! Or, 
is it logical to deduce that, because virtue may suffer, virtue 
may be disgustful ? Is not suffering essential to virtue ? To 

* See Plate II., Fig. 10. 


ask why virtue must suffer, is equivalent to asking why God 
has decreed virtue should exist. — Is it alike incongruous to ad- 
mit that virtue suffers, and that virtue looks like vice ? Virtue 
void of conflict, of suffering, or of self-denial, is not virtue, 
accurately considered; therefore it is folly to ask, why must 
the virtuous suffer ? It is in the nature of things ; but it is not 
in the nature of things, not in the relation of cause and effect 
that virtue should look like vice, or wisdom like foolishness 
How, good sir, could you forget what you have so expres 
sively said, — " There is no durable beauty without virtue, and 
the most hateful deformity may, by the aid of virtue, acquire the 
most irresistible charms. The author is acquainted with several 
women whose example might inspire the most ugly with hope." 

We do not inquire what may be the infirmities of the vir- 
tuous ; or whether a man of genius may not become a fool ; 
we ask whether virtue, while existing, can look like present 
vice ; or actual folly, like actual wisdom. You, sir, who are 
so profound an inquirer into the nature of man, will, certainly, 
never grant (who, indeed, will ?) that the soul of the beloved 
disciple of Christ could (without a miracle) reside in the dirty, 
deformed mendicant, the beggarly Jew of Holbein, and act as 
freely in that as in any other body. Will you, sir, continue to 
rank yourself, in your philosophical researches, with those who, 
having maintained such senseless propositions, rid themselves 
of all difficulties by asking, " Who empowered thee, reptile, 
to judge of the works of God ? " 

Is there any occasion to add another word ? — Certainly not. 
— " But where are the experiments, the facts ? " — If, sir, the 
example of Judas be insufficient, you will find some few in the 
following pages ; with such, indeed, the whole work abounds. 


Fig. 1. — The conformation of the head, the overhanging of 
the forehead, alone, decidedly speak stupidity, incapable of in- 
struction; and not less so the position of the nose to the 
mouth, perfectly brutal, without affection or mental enjoyment : 
the eyes, chin, and beard, all correspond. 


Pig. 2. — Calm reason is certainly not expected in this profile; 
nothing of the tranquillity which is capable of patient atten- 
tion and consideration. The forehead pressing forward, the 
strongly-arched nose, (not to mention the divided lips,) the 
projecting chin, which is like a handle to the face, the outline 
of the eye, the eager look, expressed in the straight outlines of 
the upper eyelid, all leave us not a moment in doubt that this 
is a person of an ardent, rapid, anticipating, hasty character. 
— All of which is discovered, not by motion, but by the firm 
parts, or by the flexible in a state of rest. 

Fig. 3. — How much consideration in this, notwithstanding 
its vivacity ! How much less sanguine, less ardent, less pre- 
sumptuous ! How much more wisdom, and less courage ! — 
Place eye to eye, nose to nose, and, especially, chin to chin ; 
imagine them only shades, deprived of additional features, and 
ask yourself, ask any man, if one be considered as deliberate 
and wise, and the other as passionate and impetuous, which is 
which ; the answer will be general, and the voice of the people 
will be the voice of God. 

Fig. 4. — Carefully calm, wise, deliberation ; examination, 
benevolence, active friendship ; but, certainly, not ardent 
courage, certainly not poetic flight, certainly not heroic 
deeds, are to be expected from this outline of the forehead 
to the eyes. 

Fig. 5. — Though this be a boyish, almost childish, cari 
cature of a serious, worthy, and not youthful original, 
yet must every half physiognomist here read mild benevo- 
lence ; a form in which harshness, rigorous constraint, op- 
pressive ambition, selfish obstinacy, and violent pertinacity, 
are not to be dreaded: all is mild and gentle, but serious 
and wise benignity. 

Fig. 6. — If this be not the countenance of a man extremely 
active ; if there be not in this progressive impulse, something 
of native nobility, freedom, magnanimity ; that is to say, if 
any man can show me a nose, resembling this, which does not 
denote such a character ; if this forehead have not facility of 
comprehension, rather prompt than profound, with a greater 
propensity to feeling than abstract reasoning, then will I re- 


nounce physiognomy. — I say nothing of the cheerful, Titus- 
like, benevolence of the mouth. 

Fig. 7. — This whole profile, especially the upper part, speaks 
to every observer a philosophic head. Courage, that is to say 
a brilliant, a heroic courage, it is deficient in ; that is in no 
wise betokened in the sinking outline of the nose, the indent- 
ing under the forehead, the eye, nor the mouth. I am certain, 
past doubt, that fine sensibility, easily oppressed, wounded, or 
irritated, together with deep philosophical research, must reside 
in these outlines, in a head of this form. 

Fig. 8. — Unwearied patience ; firm, immoveable character, 
difficult to be imposed upon, or diverted from its purpose ; 
pertinacious in the pursuit of plans ; capacity without genius ; 
prudence without penetration ; activity without any great spirit 
of enterprise ; fidelity without affection ; goodness without 
ardour, are certainly perceptible to all who understand the 
least of physiognomy, in the present head. 

Fig. 9. — The character of greatness ! — Although it is true 
that caricature is certainly produced whenever a great coun- 
tenance is copied, yet we as certainly obtain in part a grand 
outline ; of this the present head is a proof. Consider the 
forehead, skull, nose or eyes, individually or combined : the 
man of power and penetration cannot be mistaken. 

Fig. 10. — Does this countenance need a commentary for 
that eye which views by its own power, and not through a glass 
presented by the spirit of contradiction I Are not the eyes, nose 
and mouth, credentials for reflection, wisdom, and stability ? 
Will not such a countenance run the political race like a giant ? 

Fig. 11. — Bodmer. — Among a thousand blockheads, where 
will you find this eye, this forehead I Yet is it, in the present 
feeble copy, a thousand degrees below the original. Whoever 
resembles this figure, certainly possesses imagination ; a per- 
ception of the natural, the beautiful, and the useful ; and the 
gift of describing, with easy, rapid, and accurate powers, 
True wisdom is in the nose ; and over the lips hovers all the 
simplicity of Attic wit. 

And, on the subject of shades, which the essayist has, with 


inexplicable silence, passed unnoticed, as if no such were to 
have been found in our fragments ; will he, in the face of man, 
or, silently, in his study, having but glanced at a number of 
these shades, continue to affirm, without, and contrary to all 
demonstration, as well as contrary to his own principles, that 
" talents and endowments of the mind are not expressed by 
any signs in the firm parts of the head." Or, in other words, 
that "arbitrarily, and without any internal cause, one has acute, 
another obtuse, forehead bones." — " It is only accident ;" (in 
a world where nothing happens by accident.) " An angular, 
a round, a flat, or an arched forehead, may contain the same 
talents, and the same endowments of mind, in the same degree." 
— What answer can be made ? — None, but see and decide. 


Fig. 1. — Nothing is more evident to each man conversant 
with the world, who does not pretend to understand any thing 
of physiognomonical outlines, than that this, which is merely 
an outline, betokens fine feeling and thinking; mildness of 
mind, without powerful or enterprising strength. The position 
of the forehead shows, in part, a clear and brilliant fancy, and 
in part free, but not very prompt, or elastic productive powers. 

Fig. 2. — Circumspection, consideration, order, skill in busi- 
ness, cold fidelity, are here naturally expected : but, certainly, 
not from the outline of this forehead, the flights of the poet, 
or the profound inquiries of the metaphysician. I mean not 
to dogmatize ; I appeal to experience. Show me such a fore- 
head with either of these capacities. 

Figs. 3, 4. — Two shades, the originals of which are unknown 
to me ; though they certainly are not common persons. We 
learn this, not only from the general form, but, especially, in 
the firm, masculine nose of the female, 4, and in the male, 3, 
from the position and outline of the forehead, and the origi- 
nality of the lower parts. I have hitherto seen but few coun- 
tenances in which so much power and goodness, fortitude and 
condescension, were combined. 

Fig. 5. — Another countenance, the greatness of which no 


unprejudiced observer can deny ; although this greatness will 
be much more evident to the physiognomist than to the man 
of the world. No man, by nature stupid, unpolished, feeble, 
and irresolute, can look thus . I should not say too much were 
I to write under this shade — the power and fortitude of a 
hero, united with the most delicate discrimination and poetical 

Fig. 6. — The shade of a man remarkable, like its original, 
among a thousand (especially by the back part of the head), 
to whom no one, certainly, will deny much comprehension, 
richness of ideas, and facility of thought and utterance. The 
position and upper part of the outline of the forehead indicate 
more power of thought than the under, in which something 
minute seems to remain. (We speak of this shade only.) 
Facility of receding, or adopting the opinions of others, would 
be sought in vain. 

If we consider the circuitous outline from the point a, 
above the eye-bones, to c, behind the head, we may define, 
with tolerable certainty, the preponderating characteristic of 
the mind. What such a head can, or cannot, will be apparent 
to the common physiognomist, from the section of the profile, 
thus taken from a to c ; to the greater proficient, from the 
smaller fragment ato'b; and, to the profound, from d to e. 

Fig. 8. — " The look of the eye, the smile of the mouth, and 
the motion of the muscles, are all significant. On these all 
depend, nothing on what remains. 11 — How many thousand 
times has this assertion been repeated ! How many thousand 
times shall it again be repeated, and that because it contains 
so much of truth ? No error can be repeated that does not 
contain much truth. No false coin can circulate that has not 
much sterling ore mingled with its baser alloy. The truth 
contained in the above proposition is, that very much depends 
on the look of the eye. The motion of the mouth is inex- 
pressibly significant. — One motion of an individual muscle 
may express more than can be described. — Whoever denies 
this must be void of sense. But this truth does not anni- 
hilate another, nor can any one truth be contradictory to 
another. We have given numerous examples to prove that 



the proposition above stated is not exclusively true ; which, 
in my opinion, is still more apparent from, this mask, Fig. 8,* 
of a wise man, feeble and shrivelled as it is. — All is here at 
rest ; no look of the eye, no motion of the lip ; yet who can 
say this lifeless countenance does not speak? Who shall 
affirm, having this countenance before him, — that deprived of 
the living eye, and its glance, deprived of the motion of the 
muscles, there is no feature that is significant. Does not 
wisdom hover in these eyebrows, even though they were singly 
considered ? Does not penetration, demanding our reverence, 
conceal itself under their shadow? And may we, with as 
great probability, expect a common as a sublime understand- 
ing, in the arching of this forehead ? Does this closed eye 
say nothing ; this outline of the nose, this middle line of the 
mouth, this oblique muscle from the nose to the mouth, this 
tranquil proportion, this harmony of individual parts and fea- 
tures, do they all say nothing? — Where is the man who, this 
lying before him, has sufficient insensibility to answer, no? 

Figs. 7, 9. — Two additional shades of the same head. 9, is 
the most accurate in the lower part, and 7, in the upper; yet 
both will discover more to the physiognomist than 8, although 
they only contain one of a thousand outlines that mark the 
features of the countenance ; and although nothing can be 
imagined more still, more inanimate. 

From the top of the skull to the neck, Fig. 9, before and 
behind, all speaks one language. — Deep, close, excellent, per- 
manent wisdom. All denote a man whose like will not be 
discovered, no, not among a million of men. The not to be 
led, ever leading, ever creating, ever proceeding towards the 
goal, and waiting, with tranquillity, for the accomplishment of 
what is foreseen : the man of light, of power and act ; at the 
aspect of whom all present acknowledge, " here is one greater 
than myself." This arched forehead, these sharp, projecting 
eye-bones, »nd penthouse brows, these hollows above the eye, 
this projecting pupil, these lips, rigidly shut, this prominent 
chin, these hills and hollows in the back of the head, — all 
speak one language to all mankind. 

* Larve. Perhaps, a cast taken after death. — T. 


You are, by this time, sensible, worthy sir, yes, I am con- 
vinced you are, that, independent of the motion of the muscles, 
the fire of the eyes, of complexion, gesture, and attitude ; in- 
dependent of speech and action ; there is a physiognomy of 
the firm parts, of the grand outlines ; a physiognomy of the 
talents, which may be read, even in the sleeping, or the dead ; 
a physiognomy that can read every thing, in the same counte- 
nance, even though the mind have lost its power, or health, 
as if it were yet in its natural state. Still further to convince 
an antagonist so penetrating, oh ! that I had your own coun- 
tenance, sir, taken sleeping, to lay before you ; if it were but 
the outline from the top of the forehead to the extremity of 
the eye-bones. I have not the pleasure to know you, have 
never seen any picture, any shade, of you ; yet am I as cer- 
tain as if I had known, had seen, that the mere shade of your 
profile, or a three-quarter drawing of your countenance, would, 
without further proofs, be a new demonstration to me and all 
my readers, of the truth, that talents and genius may, with 
certainty, be known by the firm parts of the countenance. 

If life and health be granted me, I shall, in my physiogno- 
monical lines, demonstrate that, from the mere outlines of the 
skull, the degree of the powers of understanding, at least the 
proportion of its capacity and talents to other heads, may be 
mathematically defined, and show in what manner. Were I 
a mathematician, nothing would be more easy to me than to 
calculate a table of the proportions to determine the capacities 
of all skulls, in like circumstances. This I am unable, at pre- 
sent, to perform, though 1 am certain it might be effected by 
a mathematician. It may, to many, probably appear the 
assertion of a weak man, but it is an assertion deduced from 
an inquiring love of truth, that, if we draw two lines and form 
a right angle between the top and the most extreme horizontal 
point of the forehead, taken in profile, and compare the hori- 
zontal and perpendicular lines, and their relation t{> the dia- 
gonal, we may, from the relation of these lines, determine, at 
least in general, the capacity of the forehead. Much more 
accurate, precise, and convincing experiments than even these 
might be made. I hope neither wise man nor fool will doubt 


the truth, that talents are denoted by the firm parts of the 

Dear friend of truth, what can I do but appeal to experi- 
ment ? What but, with innocent zeal for truth, for the voice, 
the word of God, revealed in the human form, intreat, let 
experiments be made? Folios of subtleties cannot prepon- 
derate against a single page, a single line of accurate experi- 
ment. He who appeals to experiment will inexorably despise 
all the gentleman-like unphilosophical inquirers, who never 
make experiments, who will not look at experiments already 
made, and who, with contemning ridicule, exclaim, it cannot 
be, although it is. 

Experiment being made, it will, sir, be as certain as that I 
write, or that you read, that each forehead of an idiot, so 
known to be, in all its outlines will essentially differ from the 
forehead of a man of known genius : experiment made, it will 
be found that the forehead whose base line is two-thirds 
shorter than its height, is the forehead of a fool. If it be 
still shorter, in proportion to its height, the more stupid is 
the man. On the contrary, the longer the horizontal line, 
and the more it corresponds to its diagonal, the more it is a 
sign of understanding. The more suddenly, and remarkably, 
the radii of the quadrant, the right angle of which is applied 
to the said right angle of the forehead, the more suddenly 
these radii, which, for example, make an angle of ten degrees, 
shorten in unequal proportion, the more stupid is the man ; 
and the more wise, the juster the proportion between them. 
The powers of the understanding will be essentially different 
if the arch of the forehead, and especially the horizontal radiug 
exceeds the arch of the quadrant, from what they will if i 
runs parallel (equal) or not parallel (equal) with it.* 

The annexed plate may, in some measure, more clearly ex- 
press my thoughts. A forehead similar to Fig. 12, will be 
much wiser than one formed like 1 1 ; and 1 1 , in like manner, 
wiser than 10. A forehead that shall most approach the form 
10, will most approach idiotism. 

* The, translator has been obliged to be as literal as possible; the mean 
ing of the author will best be gained by tli? first part of the paragraph. 


The most certain and simple of demonstrations, which we 
may at any time make, is the form of the skulls of children, 
which daily is altered, as the faculties are unfolded ; and, when 
the forehead has acquired permanency, the skull also remains 

That this is not all declamation I am certain. Declamation 
is a word in vogue, by which all disagreeable truths are to be 
overturned ; but I affirm that this is truth and not declama- 
tion. I am certain, for I have made experiments, and on 
these I found my physiognomonical judgments ; and I con- , 
sider all as declamation, unworthy answer, opposed to these 
experiments, unless it be still more accurate experiments. 
High sounding words, void of truth, deserve this appellation. 
But how can you, children of truth, declare truth, obtained by 
experiment, and published with the zeal of cheerfulness, to be 
declamation ? We speak not of indifferent tilings ; though no 
truth whatever, however insignificant it may appear to be, is in 
reality indifferent. We speak of truth most worthy of, most 
important to, man ; of determining what are the faculties of 
men, of all determinations the most momentous; of the hidden 
wisdom and truth of God, which may, and will, be made visible 
in us, and in our likeness. — To be indifferent, to be cold on 
this subject, would, to me, be the worst of affectation. If I 
speak truth from conviction, and that I do, all who shall make 
experiments after- me will themselves be convinced, then is this 
truth to me most important. I can, therefore, only repeat my 
\ntreaty to you, mathematical friend of truth, measure, — 
measure a dozen, or half a dozen, heads of persons whom you 
know to be persons of genius, and contrast them with others 
whom you know to be idiots. Measure them in what manner 
you please, according to my rules, or your own. I cannot 
further elucidate this particular, since a succession of such 
definitions would require a separate work ; but I could not 
forbear intimating thus much. Whoever shall prosecute the 
discovery of this truth will perceive it, and rejoice in that God 
who creates all things in proportion, (nana yew/xtrpowroe 



" Select shades of thinking heads," says the essayist, " must 
be compared to other select shades of the thoughtless and the 
foolish." — (This has been, this shall continue to be done.) — 
" We should not contrast the well-educated man with the 
village blockhead." — (And, permit me to ask, why not ? What 
means are so effectual as every varied kind of experiment to 
obtain certainty in knowledge ?) 

" A well-educated man." — What care of education can arch 
the skull of a negro like that of the star-conversant astrono- 
mer ? We are speaking of the firm parts, and how are these 
affected by education ? Natural idiots and men of natural 
genius, fools and wise men, that were originally formed such, 
and such remain, accidents excepted, ought, in my opinion, to 
be compared ; and these we have compared. Thinking heads, 
I acknowledge, ought to be select ; for every such head is, of 
itself, in a certain manner, select ; while, on the contrary, the 
thoughtless, and the village blockhead, are easily to be found. 
The numbers of the wise and the foolish are, indeed, very un- 
equal ; but let the latter be brought ; let countenance be con- 
trasted to countenance, outline to outline, and let pot what we 
have so frequently repeated, be forgotten. — Let us examine the 
firm parts which nature gave them, distinctly from the flexible 
parts, which they have acquired by accident, disease, calamity, 
or unfortunate love. — Let us distinguish what they were before 
they were fools : we shall soon perceive which was the natural, 
which the accidental fool. 

" The inhabitants of Bedlam," says our author, " would 
inspire respect, did they not look like men turned to statues ; 
did they not walk with clasped arms, and countenances of 
horror ; did they not smile with vacant eyes, and listen to the 
imaginary songs of angels." Add to this, that the firm parts 
still inspire respect ; add, that coming from the hands of 
nature, they were not mad ; add, that accident has made them 
what they are. Such examples we have produced, and more 
such shall again produce. But how may it be deduced from 
all this — " that physiognomy is extremely deceitful ?" 

Extremely deceitful ! — What ! when the former inclinations 
and powers of mind still are denoted ! For such must be shown 


since respect is inspired. Deceitful ! — What ! when accidental 
debility of mind is visible ! Surely, good sir, you are jocular. 
I can find no other mode of reconciling what seems, to me, so 
self-contradictory ; unless, indeed, we totally misunderstand 
each other. — Show me the 'countenances of natural idiots that 
look like men of natural understanding ; show me an idiot 
born, not an idiot by accident, either like Newton, sir, or like 

Shall we proceed ? — Yes, some few more passages. 

" Our senses acquaint us only with the superficies, from 
which all deductions are made. This is not very favourable to 
physiognomy, for which something more definite is requisite ; 
since this reading of the superficies is the source of all our 
errors, and frequently of our ignorance." 

Such is our nature ; we absolutely can read nothing more 
than the superficies. In a world devoid of miracles, the ex- 
ternal ever must have a relation to the internal ; and, could 
we prove all reading of the superficies to be false, what should 
we effect but the destruction of all human knowledge 1 All 
our inquiries produce only new superficies. All our truth must 
be the truth of the superficies. It is not the reading of the 
superficies that is the source of all our error ; for, if so, we 
should have no truth ; but the not reading ; or, which is the 
same in effect, the not rightly reading. 

If "a pea thrown into the Mediterranean sea would effect 
a change in the superficies which should extend to the coast 
of China," any error that we might commit, in our conclu- 
sions concerning the action of this pea, would not be because 
we read only the superficies, but because we cannot read the 

" That we can only read the superficies is not very favour- 
able to physiognomy, for which something more definite is re- 
quisite." Something more definite we have continually en- 
deavoured to give, and wish to hear the objections of acute 
inquirers. But let facts be opposed to facts. Does not our 
author, by the expression, " Since the internal is impressed 
upon the external,"' seem to grant the possibility of this im- 


pression ? And, if so, does not the superficies become the 
index of the internal ? Does he not, thereby, grant the physiog- 
nomy of the firm parts ? 

But he asks, " If the internal be impressed upon the ex- 
ternal, is the impression to be discovered by the eyes of men V 

Dare I trust my eyes, that I have read such a passage in 
the writings of a philosopher ! 

What we see we see. Be the object there, or be it not, 
the question ever must be, do we or do we not see I That we 
do see, and that the author, whenever he pleases, sees also, his 
essay is a proof; as are his other works, published and un- 
published. Be this as it may, I know not what would become 
of all our philosophers, and philosophy, were we, at every new 
discovery of things, or the relations of things, to ask, was this 
thing placed there to be discovered I 

With what degree of ridicule would our witty author treat 
the man who should endeavour to render astronomy con- 
temptible by asking, " Though the wisdom of God is manifest 
in the stars, were the stars placed there to be discovered V 

" Must not signs and effects which we do not seek, conceal 
and render those erroneous of which we are in search ?" The 
signs we seek are manifest, and may be known. They are the 
terminations of causes, therefore effects, therefore physiogno- 
monical expressions. The philosopher is an observer, an ob- 
server of that which is sought, or not sought. He sees, and 
must see, that which presents itself to his eyes ; that which 
presents itself is the symbol of something which does not pre- 
sent itself. What he sees can only mislead him when he does 
not see rightly. If the conclusion be true, " that signs and 
effects which we do not seek must conceal, and render errone- 
ous, those of which we are in search," then ought we to seek 
no signs and effects, and thus all sciences vanish. I should hope 
a person of so much learning, as is our author, would not sacri- 
fice all human sciences for the sole purpose of heaping physiog- 
nomy on the pile. I grant the possibility and facility of error 
is there ; and this should teach us circumspection ; should 
teach us to see the thing that is, without the addition of any 


thing that is not. But to wish, by any pretence, to divert us 
from seeing and observing, and to render inquiry contemptible, 
whether with rude or refined wit, would be the most ridiculous 
of all fanaticism. Such ridicule, in the mouth of a professed 
enemy of false philosophers, would be as vapid as false. I am 
persuaded, indeed, my antagonist is only in jest. 

" Were the growth of the body," says the author, " in the 
most pure of atmospheres, and modified only by the emotions 
of the mind, undisturbed by any external power, the ruling 
passion, and the prevailing talent, I allow, might produce, ac- 
cording to their different gradations, different forms of coun- 
tenance, like as different salts crystallize in different forms, 
when obstructed by no impediment. But is the body influenced 
by the mind alone ; or, is it not, rather, exposed to all the 
impulses of various contradictory powers, the laws of which it 
is obliged to obey ? Thus each mineral, in its purest state, 
has its peculiar form ; but the anomalies which its combina- 
tion with others occasions, and the accidents to which it is 
subjected, often cause the most experienced to err, when they 
would distinguish it by its form." What a simile ! Salts and 
minerals compared to an organized body, internally animate ! 
A grain of salt, which the least particle of water will instan- 
taneously melt, to the human skull, which has defied misfor- 
tune and millions of external impressions for centuries ! Dost 
thou not blush, Philosophy ? Not to confine ourselves to the 
organization or the skulls of men, and other animals, do we 
find that even plants, which have not the internal resistance, 
the elasticity of man, and which are exposed to millions of 
counteracting impressions from light, air, and other bodies, 
ever change their form, in consequence of such causes ? Which 
of them is ever mistaken for another, by the botanist ? The 
most violent accidents scarcely could effect such a change, so 
long as they should preserve their organization. 

" Thus is the body at once acted upon by the mind and by 
external causes," — (excellently expressed) — "and manifests not 
only our inclinations and capacities," — (these then it does ma- 
nifest ; and who ever said it manifested these alone ?) — " but 
also the effects of misfortune, climate, diseases, food, and 


thousands of inconveniences to which we are subjected, not 
always in consequence of our vice, but often by accident, and 
sometimes by our virtues." Who would, who can, deny this ? 
But is the foregoing question, hereby, answered ? We are to 
attend to that. Does not our essayist himself say, " the body 
is acted upon by the mind and external causes !" Therefore 
not by external causes alone. May it not equally be affected 
by the internal energy, or the inactivity of the mind ? What 
are we contending for ? Has it not (if indeed the author be 
in earnest) the appearance of sophistry to oppose external to 
internal effects, and yet own the body is acted upon by both ? 
And will you, sir, acute and wise as you are, maintain that 
misfortune can change a wise, a round, and an arched, into a 
cylindrical forehead ; one that is lengthened into one that is 
square ; or the projecting into the short retreating chin ? Who 
can seriously believe and affirm that Charles XII., Henry IV., 
Charles V., men who were, undoubtedly, subject to misfor- 
tunes if ever men were, thereby acquired another form of 
countenance, (we speak of the firm parts not of scars,) and 
which forms denoted a different character to what each pos- 
sessed, previous to such misfortunes ? Who will maintain that 
the noses of Charles XII., or Henry IV., denoting power of 
mind, previous to their reverse of fortune, the one at Pultawa, 
the other by the hand of Ravaillac, suffered any change, and 
were debased to the insignificant pointed nose of a girl ? 
Nature acts from within upon the bones ; accident and suffer- 
ing act on the nerves, muscles, and skin. If any accident 
attack the bones, who is so blind as not to remark such phy- 
sical violence ? The signs of misfortunes are either strong or 
feeble. When they are feeble, they are effaced by the superior 
strength and power of nature ; when strong, they are too 
visible to deceive, and, by their strength and visibility, warn 
the physiognomist not to suppose them the features of nature. 
By the physiognomist I mean the unprejudiced observer, who, 
alone, is the real physiognomist, and has a right to decide ; 
not the man of subtlety, who is, wilfully, blind to experience. 
— " Are the defects which I remark in an image of wax, 
always the defects of the artist, or are they not the conse- 


quences of unskilful handling, the sun's heat, or the warmth 
of the room?" — Nothing, dear friend of truth, is more easy 
to remark, in an image of wax, than the original hand of the 
master ; although it should, by improper handling, accidental 
pressure, or melting, be injured. This example militates, sir, 
against yourself. If the hand of the master be visible in an 
image of wax, where it is so easily defaced, how much more 
perceptible must accident be, in an organized body, so indivi- 
dually permanent ? Instead of an image of wax, the simile, 
in my opinion, would be improved were we to substitute a 
statue : and, in this, every connoisseur can distinguish what 
has been broken, chopped, or filed off, as well as what has been 
added by a later hand. And why should not this be known in 
man ? Why should not the original form of man be more dis- 
tinguishable, in despite of accident, than the beauty and work- 
manship of an excellent statue, which has been defaced ? 

" Does the mind, like an elastic fluid, always assume the 
form of the body ; and, if a flat nose were the sign of envy, 
must a man, whose nose by accident should be flattened, conse- 
quently, become envious?" 

The inquirer will gain but little, be this question answered 
in the negative or the affirmative. 

What is gained were we to answer — " Yes ; the soul is an 
elastic fluid, which always takes the form of the body?" 
Would it thence follow that the flattened nose has lost so 
much of its elasticity as would be necessary to propel the 
nose ? 

Or where would be the advantage should we reply — " No ; 
all such comparisons are insignificant, except to elucidate cer- 
tain cases ; we must appeal only to facts." 

But what would be answered to a less subtle, and more 
simple question — Is there no example of the mind being in- 
jured by the maiming of the body ? Has not a fractured 
skull, by compressing the brain, injured the understanding ? 
Does not castration render the male half female? — But to 
answer wit with reason, says a witty writer, is like endeavour- 
ing to hold an eel by the tail. 

588 niJMAUKS ON AN essay 

We wholly subscribe to the affirmation that, "It is absurd 
to suppose the most beautiful mind is to be found in the most 
beautiful body, and the most deformed mind in the most de- 
formed body." We have explained ourselves on this subject 
so amply, in former fragments, that our being supposed to 
hold the contrary opinion, appears incomprehensible. We 
only say, there is a proportion and beauty of body which is 
more capable of superior virtue, sensibility, and action, than 
the disproportionate. We say with the author, " Virtue 
beautifies, vice deforms." We most cordially grant honesty 
may be found in the most ugly, and vice in the most beautiful 
of the forms of men. 

We differ from him, on the contrary, concerning the follow- 
ing assertion. " Our languages are exceedingly barren of 
physiognomonical terms. Were physiognomy a true science, 
the language of the vulgar would have been proverbially rich 
in its terms. The nose occurs in a hundred proverbs and 
phrases, but always pathognomonically." (Instead of a hun- 
dred, I am acquainted only with one such phrase, nasenrumse, 
to turn up the nose,) "denoting past action, but never physi- 
ognomonically betokening character, or disposition." — Homo 
ohescs, oMuscb naris, said the ancients. And had they not 
said it, what could thence have been adduced ; since we can 
prove, a posteriori, that the nose is a physiognomonical sign 
of character ? 

I have neither the learning nor the inclination to cite suffi- 
cient proofs of the contrary from Homer, Suetonius, Martial, 
and a hundred others. That which is, is, whether perceived 
by the ancients or not. Such dust might blind a school-boy, 
but not the eyes of a sage, who sees for himself, and who 
knows that each age has its measure of discovery, and that 
there are those who fail not to exclaim against all discoveries 
which were not made by the ancients. 

" I wish to know" (says our author) " not what man may 
become, but what he is." — For my part, I wish to know both. 
Many vicious men resemble valuable paintings, that have been 
destroyed by varnish. Would you pay no attention to such a 



painting \ Is it wholly unworthy of you, though a connoisseur 
should assure you, the picture is damaged, but there is a pos- 
sibility of clearing away the varnish, for this master's colours 
are so strongly laid on, and so essentially good, that no var-. 
nish can penetrate deep enough, if we are but careful in 
bringing it away not to injure the picture ? — Is this of no 
importance ? 

You observe the smallest change of position in the polar 
star ; days are dedicated to examine how many ages shall 
elapse before it will arrive at the nearest point of approach. I 
do not despise your labours. 

But is it of no importance to you, to fathers, mothers, guar- 
dians, teachers, friends, and statesmen, to inquire what a man 
may become, or what must be expected from this or that 
youth, thus and thus formed and educated ? 

Many foolish people are like excellent watches, which would 
go well were the regulator but rectified. 

Do you pay no attention to the goodness of the mechanism, 
although a skilful watchmaker should tell you this was, and is, 
an excellent piece of workmanship, infinitely better than that 
which you see set with brilliants, which, I grant, will go well 
for a quarter of a year, but will then stop ? — Clean this, re- 
pair it, and straighten the teeth of this small wheel. Is this 
advice of no importance ? Will you not be informed what it 
might have been, what it may yet probably be I — Will you not 
hear of a treasure that lies buried, and, while buried, I own 
useless ; but will you content yourself with the trifling interest 
arising from this or that small sum ? 

Do you pay attention only to the fruit of the present year, 
and which is, perhaps, forced ; and do you neglect the real 
goodness of a tree, which, with attention, may bring forth a 
thousand fold ; although, under certain circumstances, it may 
yet have brought forth none ? Have the hot blasts of the 
south parched up its black leaves, or has the storm blown 
down its half-ripened fruit, and will you, therefore, not inquire 
whether the root does not still remain undestroyed \ 

I feel I am weary, and that I weary others ; especially as I 


1 more convinced that our pleasant author, at 
am more and more co ^^ ^^ 

le fS only Soto two more contradictions, which ought 

! ! Wp escaped the author, and scarcely can escape any 
not to nti\ w rou - 1 
thinking reader. 

In one place he very excellently says, " Pathognomonical 
signs, often repeated, are not always entirely effaced, but leave 
physiognomonical impressions. Hence originate the lines of 
folly, ever gaping, ever admiring, nothing understanding; 
hence the traits of hypocrisy ; hence the hollowed cheek, the 
wrinkles of obstinacy, and heaven knows how many other 
wrinkles. Pathognomonical distortion, which accompanies the 
practice of vice, will, likewise, in consequence of the disease it 
produces, become more distorted and hateful. Thus may the 
pathognomonical expression of friendship, compassion, sin- 
cerity, piety, and other moral beauties, become bodily beauty, 
to such as can perceive and admire these qualities. On this 
is founded the physiognomy of Gellert, which is the only true 
part of physiognomy. — (The only true !) — This is of infinite 
advantage to virtue, and is comprehended in a few words ; 
virtue beautifies, vice deforms." 

The branch, therefore, hath effect, the root none ; the fruit 
has physiognomy, the tree none ; the laugh of self-sufficient 
vanity may, therefore, flow from the most humble of hearts ; 
and the appearance of folly from the perfection of wisdom : 
the wrinkles of hypocrisy, therefore, are not the result of any 
internal power or weakness. The author will always fix our 
attention on the dial plate, and will never speak of the power of 
the watch itself. But take, away the dial-plate and still the 
hand will go. Take away those pathognomonical traits, which 
dissimulation sometimes can effect, and the internal power of 
impulse will remain. How contradictory, therefore, is it to 
say, the traits of folly are there, but not the character of folly ; 
the drop of water is visible, but the fountain, the ocean, not ! 

Once more. How incongruous is it to say, " There is 
pathognomy, but this is as unnecessary (to be written) as an 
art of love. It chiefly consists in the motion of the muscles of 
the countenance, and the eyes, and is learned by all men. To 


teach this would be like an attempt to number the sands of the 
sea !" — Yet the author, in the very next page, with great 
acuteness, begins to teach pathognomy by explaining twelve 
of the countenances of Chodowiecki ; in which how much is 
there included of the science of physiognomy ! 

And now permit me, worthy antagonist, — yet no longer an- 
tagonist, but friend, convinced by truth, and the love of truth, 
— permit me, I say, to give, in one continued quotation, some 
of your excellent thoughts and remarks, from your essay, and 
elucidations on the countenances of Chodowiecki, part of which 
have been already cited in this fragment, and part not. I am 
convinced they will be agreeable to my readers. 

" Our judgment concerning countenances frequently acquires 
certainty, not from physiognomonical nor pathognomonical 
signs, but from the traces of recent actions, which men cannot 
shake off. Debauchery, avarice, beggary, have each their 
livery, by which they are as well known as the soldier by his 
uniform, or the chimney-sweeper by his sooty jacket. The 
addition of a trifling expletive in discourse will betray the bad- 
ness of education, and the manner of putting on the hat what 
is the company we keep, and what the degree of our folly. 1 ' — 
Suffer me here to add, shall not then the whole form of man 
discover any thing of his talents and dispositions ? Can the 
most milky candour here forget the straining at a gnat and 
swallowing a camel? — " Mad people will, often, not be known 
to be such, if not in action. More will often be discovered con- 
cerning what a man really is by his dress, behaviour, and mode 
of paying his compliments, at his first visit, and introduction, 
in a single quarter of an hour, than in all the time he shall 
remain." — By unphysiognomonical eyes, permit me to add. — 
" Cleanliness, and simplicity of manner, will often conceal 
passions. 1 ' 

" Nothing, often, is to be surmised from the countenances 
of the most dangerous men. Their thoughts are all concealed 
under an appearance of melancholy. Whoever has not re- 
marked this, is unacquainted with mankind. The heart of the 
vicious man is always less easy to be read the better his edu- 


cation has been, the more ambition lie has, and the better the 
company he has kept. 

" Cowardice and vanity, governed by an inclination to plea- 
sure and indolence, are — (sometimes)— not marked with 
strength equivalent to the mischief they occasion ; while, on 
the contrary, fortitude, in defence of justice, against all oppo- 
nents whatever, be their rank and influence what it may, and 
the conscious feeling of real self- worth, often look very dan- 
gerous, especially when unaccompanied by a smiling mouth. 

" However specious the objections brought by the sophistry 
of the sensual, it is, notwithstanding, certain there is no pos- 
sible durable beauty without virtue, and the most hateful de- 
formity may, by the aid of virtue, acquire irresistible charms. 
Examples of such perfection, among persons of both sexes, I 
own, are uncommon, but not more so than heavenly sincerity, 
modest compliance, without self-degradation, universal philan- 
thropy, without busy intrusion, a love of order, without 
being minute, or neatness, without foppery, which are the 
virtues that produce such irresistible charms.' 1 — How truly, 
how finely expressed ! 

" In like manner, vice, in persons yielding to its influence, 
may highly deform ; especially, when, in consequence of bad 
education, and want of all knowledge of the traits of moral 
beauty, or of will to assume them, the vicious man finds no 
day, no hour, in which to repair the ravages of vice. 

" Who will not listen to the mouth in which no trait, no 
shade of falsehood is discoverable ? Let it preach the expe- 
rience of what wisdom, what science it may, comfort will ever 
be the harbinger of such a physician, and confidence hasten 
to bid him welcome. 

" A certain writer says, that one of the most hateful objects 
in the creation is a vicious, and deformed old woman. — We 
may also say, that the virtuous matron, in whose countenance 
goodness and the ardour of benevolence are conspicuous, is 
an object most worthy our reverence. Age never deforms the 
countenance, when the mind dares appear unmasked ; it only 
wears off the fresh varnish, under which coquetry, vanity, and 
vice were concealed. Wherever age is exceedingly deformed, 


the same deformity would have been visible in youth, to the 
attentive observer. This is not difficult ; and were men to act 
from conviction, instead of flattering themselves with the hope 
of fortunate accidents, happy marriages would be less seldom ; 
and, as Shakspeare says, the bonds which should unite hearts 
would not so often strangle temporal happiness."* 

This is speaking to the heart. Oh that I could have written 
my fragments in company with such an observer ! Who could 
have rendered greater services to physiognomy than the man 
who, with the genius of a mathematician, possesses so accu- 
rate a spirit of observation ? 



I shall only extract some particular observations from this 
essay ; and, in general, only those which 1 suppose to be im- 
portantly true, importantly false, or ill-defined. 

" We are told that men with arched and pointed noses are 
witty ; and that the blunt-nosed are not so." 

A more accurate definition is necessary, which, without 
drawing, is almost impossible. Is it meant, by arched noses, 
arched in length or in breadth ? 

How arched ? This is almost as indeterminate as when we 
speak of arched foreheads. All foreheads are arched. Innu- 
merable noses are arched; the most witty and the most 
stupid. Where is the highest point of arching ? Where does 
it begin ? What is its extent ? What its strength ? 

It is true that people with tender, thin, sharply-defined, an- 

* I have not been able, by any effort of the memory, research, or in- 
quiry among the well read, to recollect or find the passage here alluded 
to ; and was therefore obliged to remain satisfied, much against my will, 
with translating Shakspeare from the German. — T. 


gular noses, pointed below, and something inclined towards the 
lip, are witty, when no other features contradict these tokens ; 
but that people with blunt noses are not so is not entirely true. 
It can only be said of certain blunt noses, for there are others 
of this kind extremely witty, though their wit is certainly of a 
very different kind to that of the pointed nose. 

" It is asked " (supposing for a moment that the arched and 
the blunt nose denote the presence or absence of wit) " is the 
arched nose the mere sign that a man is witty, which sup- 
poses his wit to originate in some occult cause ; or is the nose 
itself the cause of wit?" 

I answer sign, cause, and effect, combined. 

Sign ; for it betokens the wit ; is an involuntary expression 
of wit. 

Cause ; at least cause that the wit is not greater, less, or of 
a different quality ; boundary cause. 

Effect ; produced by the quantity, measure, or activity, of 
the mind, which suffers not the nose to alter its form, to be 
greater or less. We are not only to consider the form, as 
form, but the matter of which it is moulded, the conforma- 
bility of which is determined by the nature and ingredients of 
this matter, which is, probably, the origin of the form. Ac- 
cording to the given mass of this matter must the immortal 
Qewv (divine principle) in man, which is limited by it, act. 
From the moment that the two are united, the determinate 
elasticity of this spirituality begins, as a spring is rendered 
active by opposition and constraint. 

Thus is it true, and not true, that certain blunt noses are 
insuperable obstacles to the attainment of wit. Not true ; for 
before the blunt form of the nose was thus defined, the possi- 
bility did not exist, that, in this given mind, and in the deter- 
minate organization which was the result of this, it should be 
otherwise formed. The mind, the life, the identity, which the 
Creator meant not to be witty, wanted the necessary space to 
sharpen the nose : therefore the nose is not, in itself, an im- 
pediment to becoming witty. 


But true and certain it is that there are blunt noses which 
are incapable of receiving a certain quantity of wit ; there- 
fore it may be said, with more subtlety than philosophy, they 
form an insuperable barrier. 


" The correspondence of external figure with internal qua- 
lities is not the consequence of external circumstances, but, 
rather, of physical combination. They are related like cause 
and effect, or, in other words, physiognomy is not the mere 
image of internal man, but the efficient cause" — (I should 
rather say the limiting cause) — " The form and arrangement 
of the muscles determine the mode of thought and sensibility 
of the man." — (I add : these, also, are determined by the 
mind of man.) 


" A broad conspicuous forehead is said to denote penetra- 
tion : this is natural. The muscle of the forehead is neces- 
sary to deep thought ; if it be narrow and contracted it can- 
not render the same service as if spread out like a sail. 1 ' 

Without contradicting the general proposition of the author, 
I shall here, more definitely, add, it is, if you please, generally 
true that, the more brain the more mind and capacity. The 
more stupid animals are those with least brain ; and those with 
most the wisest. Man, generally wiser, has more brain than 
other animals ; and it appears just to conclude, from analogy, 
that wise men have more brain than the foolish. But accurate 
observation teaches that this proposition, to be true, requires 
much definition and limitation. Where the matter and form 
of the brain are similar, there the greater space for the resi- 
dence of the brain is, certainly, the sign, cause, and effect of 
more and deeper comprehension ; therefore, cceteris paribus, a 
larger quantity of brain, and, consequently, a spacious fore- 
head, is more intelligent than the reverse. But as we fre- 
quently live more conveniently in a small well-contrived cham- 
ber than in more magnificent apartments, so do we find that 
in many small, short foreheads, with less, or apparently less 
brain than others, the wise mind resides at its ease. 1 have 


known many short, oblique, straight-lined (when compared with 
others apparently arched, or even really well-arched) fore- 
heads which were much wiser, more intelligent and penetrat- 
ing, than the most broad and conspicuous ; many of which, 
latter I have seen in extremely weak men. It seems, indeed, 
to me, a much more general proposition, that short com- 
pressed foreheads are wise and understanding; though this, 
likewise, without being more accurately defined, is far from 
generally true. But it is true that large spacious foreheads, 
which, if I do not mistake, Galen, and after him, Huart, have 
supposed the most propitious to deep thinking, which form a 
half sphere, are usually the most stupid. The more any fore- 
head (I do not speak of the whole skull) approaches a semi- 
spherical form, the more is it weak, effeminate, and incapable 
of reflection; and this I speak from repeated experience. The 
more straight lines a forehead has, the less capacious must it 
be ; for the more it is arched, the more must it be roomy ; and 
the more straight lines it has, the more must it be contracted. 
This greater quantity of straight lines, when the forehead is 
not fiat like a board, for such flatness takes away all under- 
standing, denotes an increase of judgment, but a diminution 
of sensibility. There are, however, undoubtedly, broad, capa- 
cious foreheads, without straight lines, particularly adapted to 
profound thinking ; but these are conspicuous by their oblique 

What the author has said of enthusiasts, requires much 
greater precision before it ought to be received as true. 

" Enthusiasts are said, commonly, to have flat, perpendicular 
foreheads." — Oval, cylindrical, or pointed at top, should have 
been said of those enthusiasts who are calm, cold-blooded, and 
always continue the same. Other enthusiasts, that is to say, 
such as are subject to a variety of sensation, illusion, and sen- 
sual experience, seldom have cylindrical, or sugar-loaf heads. 
The latter, when enthusiasts, heat their imagination concern- 
ing words and types, the signification of which they do not 
understand, and are philosophical, unpoetical enthusiasts, 


Enthusiasts of imagination, or of sensibility, seldom have flat 
forms of the countenance. 


" Obstinate, like enthusiastic persons, have perpendicular 
foreheads." The perpendicular always denotes coldness, inac- 
tivity, narrowness ; hence firmness, fortitude, pertinacity, ob 
stinacy, and enthusiasm, may be there. Absolute perpendicu- 
larity, and absolute want of understanding, are the same. 


" Each disposition of mind is accompanied by a certain 
appearance, or motion, of the muscles ; consequently the ap- 
f)earance of man, which is natural to, and ever present with 
him, will be accompanied by, and denote, his natural disposition 
of mind. Countenances are so formed originally, that to one 
this, and to another that, appearance is the easiest. It is 
absolutely impossible for folly to assume the appearance of 
wisdom, otherwise it would no longer be folly. The worthy 
man cannot assume the appearance of dishonesty, or he would 
be dishonest." 

All excellent ; except the last. No man is so good as not, 
under certain circumstances, to be liable to become dishonest. 
At least there is no physical impossibility that he should. He 
is so organized that he may be overpowered by a temptation 
sufficiently strong. The possibility of the appearance must be 
there as well as the possibility of the act. He must, also, be 
able to assume the appearance of dishonesty, when he observes 
it in a thief, without necessarily becoming a thief. The possi- 
bility of assuming the appearance of goodness is, in my opinion, 
very different. The appearance of vice is always more easily 
assumed by the virtuous, than the appearance of virtue by the 
vicious ; as it is evidently much easier to become bad, when we 
are good, than good, when we are bad. Understanding, sen- 
sibility, talents, genius, virtue, or religion, may with much 
greater facility be lost than acquired. The best may descend 
as low as they please, but the worst cannot ascend to the height 
they might wish. The wise man may, physically, without a 
miracle, become a fool ; and the most virtuous, vicious ; but 


the idiot-born cannot, without a miracle, become a philoso- 
pher ; nor the distorted villain, noble and pure of heart. The 
most beautiful complexion may become jaundiced, may be 
lost ; but the negro cannot be washed white. I shall not be- 
come a negro, because, to imitate him, I blacken my face ; nor 
a thief, because I assume the appearance of a thief. 

" The physiognomist ought to inquire what is the appear- 
ance the countenance can most easily assume, and he will 
thence learn what is the disposition of the mind. Not that 
physiognomy is, therefore, an easy science. On the contrary, 
this rather shows how much ability, imagination, and genius, 
are necessary to the physiognomist. Attention must not only 
be paid to what is visible, but what would be visible, under 
various other circumstances." 

Excellent ! and I add that as a physician can presage what 
alteration of colour, appearance, or form, shall be the conse- 
quence of a known disease, of the existence of which he is 
certain ; so can the accurate physiognomist what appearances, 
or expressions, are easy or difficult to each kind of muscle, and 
form of forehead ; what action is, or i3 not, permitted ; and 
what wrinkles may, or may not, take place, under any given 


" When a learner draws a countenance, we shall commonly 
find it is foolish, and never malicious, satirical, or the like." — 
Important remark. — "May not the essence of a foolish 
countenance, hence, be abstracted ?" — Certainly ; for what is 
the cause of this appearance? The learner is incapable of 
preserving proportion ; the strokes are unconnected. — And 
what is the stupid countenance ? It is one" — among others 
— " the parts of which are defectively connected, and the 
muscles improperly formed and arranged : thought and sensa- 
tion, therefore, of which these are the inseparable instruments, 
must be alike feeble and dormant. 



" Exclusive of the muscles, there is another substance in the 
body ; that is to say, the skull, or bones, in general, to which 
the physiognomist attends. The position of the muscles de- 
pends on these. How may the muscle of the forehead have 
the position proper for thought, if the forehead bones, over 
which it is extended, have not the necessary arch and super- 
ficies ? The figure of the skull, therefore, defines the figure and 
position of the muscles, which define thought and sensation. 


" The same may be observed of the hair, from the parts and 
position of which conclusions may be drawn. Why has the 
negro woolly hair ? The thickness of the skin prevents the 
escape of certain of the particles of perspiration, and these 
render the skin opaque and black ; hence the hair shoots with 
difficulty, and scarcely has it penetrated before it curls, and its 
growth ceases. The hair spreads according to the form of the 
skull, and the position of the muscles, and gives occasion to 
the physiognomist to draw conclusions from the hair to the 
position of the muscles, and to deduce other consequences." 

In my opinion our author is in the right road. He is the 
first, who, to my knowledge, has perceived and felt the totality, 
the combination, the uniformity, of the various parts of the 
human body. What he has affirmed, especially concerning 
the hair, that we may from that make deductions concerning 
the nature of the body, and still further of the mind, the least 
accurate observer may convince himself is truth, by daily ex- 
perience. White, tender, clear, weak hair always denotes 
weak, delicate, irritable, or rather a timid and easily oppressed 
organization. The black and curly will never be found on the 
delicate, tender, medullary head. As is the hair so are the 
muscles, as muscles so the nerves, as the nerves so the bones ; 
as some or all of these so the powers of the mind to act, suffer, 
receive, and give. Least irritability always accompanies short, 
hard, curly, black hair ; and most the flaxen and the tender ; 
that is to say, irritability without elasticity. The one is op- 


pressive without elasticity, and the other oppressed without 

" Much hair much fat, therefore no part of the human body 
is more conspicuously covered with hair than the head and 
arm-pits. Withof remarks, (" Allgemeines Magazin. IV. 
Thiel,") that, in these parts, there are numerous small cells 
(cellulce adiposes), and where these are not there is no hair. 

" From the elasticity of the hair, deductions may, with cer- 
tainty, be made to the elasticity of the character. 

" The hair naturally betokens moisture, and may properly 
determine the quantity of moisture. 

" The inhabitants of cold countries have hair more white, 
and, on the contrary, those of hot countries, black. 

" Lionel Wafer observes, that the inhabitants of the Isthmus 
of Darien have milk-white hair. Few, if any, have green hair, 
except those who work in copper mines. 

" We seldom shall find white hair betokening dishonesty, 
but often dark brown or black, with light-coloured eyebrows. 

" Women have longer hair than men. Men with long hair" 
— (which long hair is generally light-coloured, at least I have 
never seen remarkably long black hair) — " Men with long hair 
are always rather effeminate than manly, therefore — doth not 
even nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair it is 
a shame unto him ? Dark hair is harsher than light, as is the 
hair of a man than that of a boy. The ancients called him 
savage who had rough hair. 

Hispida membra quidem et dura? per brachia setse 
Promittunt atrocem animum." 


" As all depends on the quality of the muscles, it is evident 
that in these muscles, which are employed for certain modes 
of thought and sensation, ought to be sought the expression of 
similar thoughts and sensations." 

Let not the search be neglected ; though, probably, it will 
be difficult to find them ; and they will, certainly, be there 
defined with greater difficulty than in the forehead. 



" The muscle of the forehead is the instrument most impor- 
tant to the abstract thinker, for which reason we always seek 
for abstract thought in the forehead." — Rather near and be- 
tween the eyebrows. It is of consequence to remark the par- 
ticular moment when the thinker is listening, or when he is 
preparing some acute answer. Seize that moment, and another 
of the important tokens of physiognomy is obtained. 


"Among people who do not abstract, and whose powers 
of mind are all in action, men of wit, exquisite taste, and 
genius, all the muscles must be advantageously formed and 
arranged : expression, therefore, in such, must be sought in 
the whole countenance." — Yet may it be found in the fore- 
head alone, which is less sharp, straight-lined, perpendicular, 
and forked. The skin is less rigid, more easily moved, more 


" How great has been the trouble to convince people that 
physiognomy is only generally useful!" — (It is disputed, at 
this very moment, by men of the strongest minds. How long; 
shall it continue so to be 1 Yet I should suppose that he who 
curses the sun, while exposed to its scorching rays, would, 
when in the shade, acknowledge its universal utility.) — " How 
afflicting is it to hear, from persons of the greatest learning, 
and who might be expected to enlarge the boundaries of hu- 
man understanding, the most superficial judgments ! How 
much is that great sera to be wished when the knowledge of 
man shall become a part" (why not the chief part, the cen- 
tral point?) "of natural history; when psychology, physiology, 
and physiognomy shall go hand in hand, and lead us towards 
the confines of more general, more sublime illumination!" 



" Since the soul of man is the nearest approach to the 
Deity, it was not proper that God should clothe that which 
most resembled himself in dishonourable garments ; but with 
a body befitting an immortal mind, and endued with a proper 
capability of motion. This is the only body on earth that 
stands erect. It is magnificent, superb, and formed according 
to the best proportion of its most delicate parts. Its stature 
is not terrific, nor is its strength formidable. The coldness of 
its juices occasions it not to creep, nor their heat to fly. It 
does not necessarily swim, for want of density. Man eats not 
raw flesh, from the savageness of his nature, nor does he graze 
like the ox. But he is framed and adapted for the execution of 
his functions. To the wicked he is formidable ; mild and friendly 
to the good. By nature he walks the earth, swims by art, 
and flies in imagination. He tills the earth, and enjoys its 
fruits. His complexion is beautiful, his limbs firm, his coun- 
tenance is comely, and beard ornamental. By imitating his 
body, the G reeks have thought proper to honour their deities. 1 ' 

Oh that I could speak with sufficient force ! Oh that I could 
find faith enough with my readers to convince them how fre- 
quently my soul seems exalted above itself, while I contem- 
plate the unspeakably miraculous nature of the human body ! 
Oh that all the languages of the earth would lend me words 
that I might turn the thoughts of men, not only to the con- 
templation of others, but, by the aid of these, to the contem- 
plation of themselves! No anti-physiognomist can more 
despise my work than I myself shall, if I am unable to accom- 
plish this purpose. How might I conscientiously write such a 
work, were not such my views ? If this be not impulse, no 
writer has impulse. I cannot behold the smallest trait, nor 
the inflexion of any outline, without reading wisdom and bene- 
volence, or without waking as if from a sweet dream into 
rapturous and actual existence, and congratulating myself 
that I, also, am a man. 


In each, the smallest outline of the human body, and how 
much more in all together ; in each member, separately, and 
how much more in the whole body, however old and ruinous 
the building may appear, or be, how much is there contained 
of the study of God, the genius of God, the poetry of God ! 
My trembling and agitated breast frequently pants after leisure 
to look into these revelations of God; pants to remember I 
am not pure enough, innocent enough, to shudder in his pre- 
sence, internally to adore ; pants at feeling I want words 
and signs to express my astonishment. Oh most incompre- 
hensible, yet most revealed, what is it that veils the all-visible 
from our eyes, that prevents us seeing the all-invisible in the 
all-visible, others in ourselves, ourselves in others, and God 
in all ! 


" Imagine to thyself the most translucent water flowing 
over 'a surface on which grow beauteous flowers, whose bloom, 
though beneath, is seen through the pellucid waves : even so 
is it with the fair flower of the soul, planted in a beauteous 
body, through which its beauteous bloom is seen. The good 
formation of a youthful body is no other than the bloom of 
ripening virtue, and, as I may say, the presage of far higher 
perfection ; for as before the rising of the sun the mountain 
tops are gilded by his rays, enlivening the pleasing prospects, 
and promising the full approach of day, so also the future ma- 
turity of an illustrious soul shines through the body, and is to 
the philosopher the pleasing sign of coming good." 


" The relation between the male and female countenance is 
similar to that between youth and manhood. 

" Our experience that the deep, or scarcely visible outline is 
in proportion to the depth or shallowness of thought, is one of 
the many proofs that nature has impressed such forms upon 
her creatures as shall testify their qualities. 

" That these forms or signs are legible to the highly percep- 
tive soul, is visible in children, who cannot endure the deceit- 


fill, the tell-tale, or the revengeful ; but run with open arms to 
the benevolent stranger. 

" Remarks on this subject may properly be divided into com- 
plexion, lines, and pantomime. 

"That white, generally speaking, is cheerful, and black 
gloomy and terrific, is the consequence of our love of light, 
which acts so degenerately, as it were, upon some animals, 
that they will throw themselves into the fire ; and of our 
abhorrence of darkness. The reason of this, our love of light, 
is, that it makes us acquainted with things, provides for the 
soul, hungry after knowledge, and enables us to find what is 
necessary, and avoid what is dangerous. I only mention this 
to intimate that in this our love of light originates our inclina- 
tion for every thing that is perspicuous." — (There is therefore 
a physiognomy of colours.) — " Certain colours are, to certain 
animals, particularly agreeable or disagreeable." — Why ? Be- 
cause they are the expression of something which has a re- 
lation to their character, that harmonizes with it, or is dis- 
cordant. Colours are the effects of certain qualities of object 
and subject. They are therefore characteristic in each, and 
become more so by the manner in which they are mutually 
received and repelled. This would be another immense field of 
inquiry, another ray of the sun of truth. — All is physiognomy ! 

" Our dislike is no less for every thing which is clothed in 
dark colours ; and nature has warned animals, not only against 
feeding on earth, but also on dark green plants, for the one 
is as detrimental as the other. Thus the man of a dark com- 
plexion terrifies an infant that is incapable of judging his 

" The members of the body are so strikingly significant, 
that the aspect of the whole attacks our feelings, and induces 
judgments as sudden as they are just. Thus, to mention two 
extremes, all will acknowledge, at the first aspect, the elephant 
to be the wisest, and the fish the most stupid of creatures. 

" To be more particular ; the upper part of the countenance, 
to the root of the nose, is the seat of internal labour, thought, 
and resolution ; the under, of these in action. Animals with 
very retreating foreheads have little brain, and the reverse. 


" Projecting nose and mouth" — (the latter, certainly, not 
always) — "betoken persuasion, self-confidence, rashness, shame- 
lessness, want of thought, dishonesty, and all such failings as 
are assembled in hasty expression." — (This is a decision after 
the manner of the old physiognomists, condemning and inde- 

" The nose is the seat of derision ; its wrinkles contemn. 
The upper lip, when projecting, speaks arrogance, threats, and 
want of shame : the pouting under lip, ostentation and folly. 

" These signs are confirmed by the manner and attitude of 
the head, when drawn back, tossed, or turned round. The 
first expresses contempt, during which the nose is active ; the 
latter is a proof of extreme arrogance, during which the pro- 
jection of the under lip is the strongest. 

" The in-drawn lower part of the countenance, on the con- 
trary, denotes discretion, modesty, seriousness, diffidence ; and 
its failings are those of malice and obstinacy." — (Not so posi- 
tive. The projecting chin is much oftener the sign of craft 
than the retreating. The latter is seldom scheming and en- 

" The straight formation of the nose betokens gravity ; 
when inbent and crooked, a noble manner of thinking. The 
flat, pouting upper lip " — (when it does not close well with the 
under) — " signifies timidity ; the lips resembling each other, 
circumspection of speech." 

" The face may be divided into two principal kinds. The 
first is that in which the cheeks present a flat surface, the nose 
projecting like a hill, and the mouth having the appearance of 
a sabre-wound, prolonged on an even surface, while the line of 
the jawbone has but little inflection. Such a form makes the 
countenance more broad than long, and exceedingly rude, in- 
expressive, stupid, and in every sense confined. Its principal 
characteristics are obstinacy and inflexibility. The second 
kind is when the nose has a sharp ridge, and the parts on both 
sides make acute angles with each other. The cheek-bones 
are not seen, consequently the muscular parts between them 
and the nose are full and prominent. The lips retreat on each 
side the mouth, assume or open into an oval, and the jaw- 


bones come to a point at the chin." — (This face denotes a mind 
more subtle, active, and intelligent.) 

" I must here, the better to explain myself, employ the 
simile of two ships ; the first a merchant vessel, built for deep 
lading, has a broad bottom, and her ribs long and flat. This 
resembles the broad, flat countenance. The frigate, built for 
swift sailing, has a sharp keel or bottom, her ribs forming 
acute angles. Such is the second countenance. Of these two 
extremes, the first presents to me the image of the meanest, 
most contracted self-love ; the second of the meet zealous, the 
noblest philanthropy." 

" I know that nature delights not in extremes ; still the 
understanding must take its departure from these, as from a 
light-house, especially when sailing in unknown seas. The 
defects and excesses which are in all the works of nature, 
will then be discovered, and one or both the boundaries 

' On further examination and application of the above hy- 
pothesis, I believe it will extend through all nature. A broad 
countenance is accompanied by a short neck, broad shoulders, 
and back, and their known character is selfishness and obtuse 
sensation. The long, small countenance, has a long neck, 
small, or low shoulders, and small back. From such I should 
expect more justice, disinterestedness, and a general superiority 
of social feelings. 

" The features of man, like his character, are essentially 
altered by education, situation, intercourse and incidents. 
Therefore we are justified in maintaining that physiogno- 
my cannot look back to the origin of the features, nor pre- 
sage the changes of futurity. But from the countenance 
only, abstracted from all external accidents by which it may 
be affected, it may read what any given man may be, with 
the following addition, at most — such shall be the strength of 
reason, or such the power of sensuality — this man is too stub- 
born to be instructed ; that so flexible he may be led to good 
or ill. 

" We may, in part, from this formation, explain why so 
many men appear to be born for certain situations, although 



they may have rather been placed in them by accident than by 
choice. Why, the prince, the nobleman, the overseer of the 
poor, have a lordly, a stern, or a pedantic manner ; why the 
subject, the servant, the slave, are pusillanimous and spiritless ; 
or the courtezan, affected, constrained, or insipid. The con- 
stant influence of circumstances on the mind far exceeds the 
influence of nature." — (Far the contrary.) — " Although it is 
certain that innate servility" — (there is no such thing as innate 
servility. It is true that, under certain circumstances, some 
are much mor# disposed than others to become servile) — " is 
very distinct from the servility of one whom misfortune has 
rendered a servant ; like as he whom chance has made a ruler 
over his brother is very different from one who is, by nature, 
superior to vulgar souls. 

" The unfeeling mind of the slave has vacuity more complete, 
or if a master, more self-complacency and arrogance in the 
open mouth, the projecting lip, and the turned-up nose. The 
nobler mind rules by the comprehensive aspect, while, in the 
closed lips, moderation is expressed. He will serve with sul- 
lenness, with downcast eyes, and his shut mouth will disdain to 

" As the foregoing causes will make durable impressions, so 
will the adventitious occasion transitory ones, while their 
power remains. The latter are more apparent than the signs 
of the countenance at rest, but may be well defined by the 
principal characteristics of the agitated features ; and, by 
comparison with countenances subject to similar agitations, the 
nature of the mind may be fully displayed. Anger, in the un- 
reasonable, ridiculously struggles ; in the self-coneeited, it is 
fearful rage ; in the noble-minded, it yields and brings oppo- 
nents to shame ; in the benevolent, it has a mixture of com- 
passion for the offender, moving him to repentance. 

" The affliction of the ignorant, is outrageous : of the vain, 
ridiculous ; of the compassionate, abundant in tears, and com- 
municative ; of the resolute, serious, internal, the muscles 
of the cheeks scarcely drawn upward, the forehead little 

" The love of the ignorant, is violent, eager ; of the vain, 


disgusting, is seen in the sparkling eyes, and the forced smile 
of the forked cheeks, and the in-drawn mouth ; of the tender, 
languishing, with the mouth contracted to entreat ; of the man 
of sense, serious, steadfastly surveying the object, the forehead 
open, the mouth prepared to plead." 

"In a word, the sensations of a man of fortitude are re- 
strained, while those of the ignorant degenerate into grimace. 
The latter, therefore, are not the proper study of the artist, 
though they are of the physiognomist, and the moral teacher, 
that youth may be warned against too strong si expression of 
the emotions of the mind, and of their ridiculous effects. 

" Thus do the communicative and moving sensations of the 
benevolent, inspire reverence ; but those of the vicious, fear, 
hatred, or contempt. 

" The repetition of passions engrave their signs so deeply 
that they resemble the original stamp of nature. Hence cer- 
tainty may be deduced that the mind is addicted to such pas- 
sions. Thus are poetry and the dramatic art highly beneficial, 
and thus may be seen the advantage of conducting youth to 
scenes of misery and of death. 

" Frequent intercourse forms such a similarity between 
men, that they not only assume a mental likeness, but fre- 
quently contract some resemblance of voice and feature. I 
know several examples of this. 

" Each man has his favourite gesture, which might decipher 
his whole character, might he be observed with sufficient accu- 
racy to be drawn in that precise posture. The collection of 
such portraits would be excellent for the first studies of the 
physiognomist, and would increase the utility of the fragments 
of Lavater tenfold. 

" Of equal utility would be a series of drawings of the mo- 
tions peculiar to individuals. The number of these in lively 
men is great, and they are transitory. In the more sedate 
they are less numerous, and more grave. 

" As a collection of idealized individuals would promote an 
extensive knowledge of men of various kinds of mind, so would 
a collection of the motions of a single countenance promote a 
history of the human heart, and demonstrate what an arro- 


gant, yet pusillanimous thing the unformed heart is, and the 
perfection it is capable of from the efforts of reason and expe- 

" What a school for youth, to see Christ teaching in the 
temple ; asking, Whom seek you ? agonizing in the garden ; 
weeping over Jerusalem; expiring on the cross. Ever the 
same God-man ! Ever displaying, in these various situations, 
the same miraculous mind, the same steadfast reason, the 
same gentle benevolence. 

" Caesar jesting with the pirates, when their prisoner; 
weeping over the head of Pompey; sinking beneath his as- 
sassins, and casting an expiring look of affliction and reproach, 
while he exclaims — et tu Brute ? 

" Belshazzar feasting with his nobles ; turning pale at the 
handwriting on the wall. 

" The tyrant, enraged, butchering his slaves ; and, sur- 
rounded by condemned wretches intreating mercy from the 
uplifted sword, pronouncing a general pardon. 

" Since sensation has a relative influence on the voice, must 
not there be one principal tone, or key, by which all the others 
are governed ; and will not this be the key in which he speaks, 
when unimpassioned ; like as the countenance at rest con- 
tains the propensities to all such traits as it is capable of 
receiving ? 

" These keys of voice a good musician, with a fine ear, 
should collect, class, and learn to define, so that he might 
place the key of the voice beside any given countenance, 
making proper allowances for changes, occasioned by the form 
of the lungs, exclusive of disease. Tall people, with a flat- 
ness of breast, have weak voices. 

" This thought, which is more difficult to execute than to 
conceive, was inspired by the various tones in which I had 
heard yes and no pronounced. 

" The various emotions under which these words are uttered, 
whether of assurance, decision, joy, grief, ridicule, or laughter, 
will give birth to tones as various. Yet each man has his 
peculiar manner, correspondent to his character, of saying 
yes, no, or any other word. It will be open, hesitating, 


grave, trifling, sympathizing, cold, peevish, mild, fearless, or 
timid. What a guide for the man of the world ; and how do 
such tones display or betray the mind ! 

" Since experience teaches us that, at certain times, the 
man of understanding appears foolish, the courageous cowardly, 
the benevolent perverse, and the cheerful discontented, we 
might, by the aid of these accidental traits, draw an ideal of 
each emotion ; and this would be a most valuable addition, 
and an important step in the progress of physiognomy." 


" The distorted or disfigured form may originate as well 
from external as from internal causes ; but the consistency of 
the whole is the consequence of conformity between internal 
and external causes ; therefore is moral goodness much more 
visible in the countenance than moral evil." — (True, those mo- 
ments excepted when moral evil is in act. 

" The end of physiognomy ought to be, not conjectures on 
individual, but the discovery of general, character." — (That 
is to say, the discovery of general signs of powers and sensa- 
tions ; which certainly are useless, unless they can be indivi- 
dually applied, since our intercourse is with individuals.) 

" Were numerous portraits of the same man annually drawn, 
and the original, by that means, well known, it would be of 
great utility to physiognomy. 11 — (It is possible, and perhaps only 
possible, to procure accurate shades, or plaster-casts. Minute 
changes are seldom accurately enough attended to by the 
painter, for the purpose of physiognomy.) 


" The grand question of the physiognomist, in his researches, 
will ever be, in what manner is a man considered capable of 


the impressions of sense ; through what kind of prospective 
does he view the world ? What can he give, what receive I 

" That very vivacity of imagination, that quickness of con- 
ception, without which no man can be a physiognomist, is, 
probably, almost inseparable from other qualities which render 
the highest caution necessary, if the result of his observations 
is to be applied to living persons." — (Granted ; but the danger 
will be much less if he endeavour to employ his quick sensa- 
tions in determinate signs ; if he be able to pourtray the 
general tokens of certain powers, sensations and passions ; and 
if his rapid imagination be only busied to discover, and draw 


" Internal sensation is the characteristic of truth ; and the 
designer who would present such natural sensation to his aca- 
demy, would not obtain a shade of the true without a peculiar 
addition of something which an ordinary and unimpassioned 
mind cannot read in any model, being ignorant of the action 
peculiar to each sensation or passion."''' — (Internal sensation 
forms the physiognomist, which if the designer be not, he will 
give but the shadow, and only an indefinite and confused 
shadow, of the true character of nature.) 

" The forehead and nose of the Greek gods and goddesses 
form almost a straight line. The heads of famous women, on 
Greek coins, have similar profiles, where the fancy might not 
be indulged in ideal beauties. Hence we may conjecture that 
this form was as common to the ancient Greeks as the flat nose 
to the Calmuc, or the small eye to the Chinese. The large 
eyes of Grecian heads, in gems, and coins, support this con- 
jecture." — (This ought not to be absolutely general, and, pro- 
bably, was not, since numerous medals show the contrary ; 


though in certain ages and countries such might have been the 
most common form. If one such countenance, however, had 
only presented itself to the genius of art, it would have been 
sufficient for its propagation and continuance. — This is less our 
concern than ihe signification of such a form. The nearer the 
approach to the perpendicular, the less is there characteristic 
of the wise or graceful ; and the higher the character of worth 
and greatness, the more obliquely the lines retreat. The more 
straight and perpendicular the profile of the forehead and the 
nose is, the more does the profile of the upper part of the head 
approach a right angle, from which wisdom and beauty will fly 
with equal rapid steps. In the usual copies of these famous 
ancient lines of beauty, I generally find the expression of mean- 
ness ; and, if I dare so say, of vague insipidity. I repeat, in 
the copies ; in the Sophonisba of Angelica Kauffman, for in- 
stance, where, probably, the shading under the hair has been 
neglected, and where the gentle arching of the lines, appa- 
rently, was scarcely attainable.) 


" The line which separates the repletion from the excess of 
nature is very small. — (Not to be measured by industry or 
instrument, yet all-powerful, as every thing unattainable is.) 

w A mind as beautiful as was that of Raphael, in an equally 
beautiful body, is necessary, first to feel, and afterwards to 
display the true character of the ancients, in these modern 


" Constraint is unnatural, and violence disorder." — (Where 
constraint is remarked, there let secret, profound, slowly-de- 
structive passion be feared : where violence, there open, and 
quick-destroying .) 


" Greatness will be expressed by the straight and full, and 
tenderness by the gently curving." — (All greatness has some- 
thing of the straight and full ; but all that is straight and full 


is not greatness. The straight and full must be in a certain 
position, and must have a determinate relation to the hori- 
zontal surface on which the observer stands to view it.) 

" It may be proved that no principal of beauty exists in this 
profile ; for the stronger the arching of the nose is, the less 
does it contain of the beautiful ; and, if any countenance seen 
in profile is bad, any search after beauty will there be vain." 

(The noblest, purest, wisest, most spiritual and benevolent 
countenance may be beautiful to the physiognomist, who, in 
the extended sense of the word beauty, understands all moral 
expressions of good as beautiful ; yet the form may not, there- 
fore, accurately speaking, deserve the appellation of beautiful.) 

" We generally think according to our formation. 


" We read the colouring of Guido and Guercino in their 


" Nothing is more difficult than to demonstrate a self-evi- 
dent truth." 



" Campanella had not only made very accurate observations 
on human faces, but was very expert in mimicking such as 
were any way remarkable. When he had a mind to penetrate 
into the inclinations of those he had to deal with, he composed 
his face, his gesture, and his whole body, as nearly as he could, 
into the exact similitude of the person he intended to examine ; 
and then carefully observed what turn of mind he seemed to 
acquire by this change. So that, says my author, he was able 
to enter into the dispositions and thoughts of people as effec- 
tually as if he had been changed into the very men. I have 


often observed that, on mimicking the looks and gestures of 
angry, or placid, or frighted, or daring men, I have involun- 
tarily found my mind turned to that passion whose appearance 
I endeavoured to imitate : nay, I am convinced it is hard to 
avoid it, though one strove to separate the passion from its 
correspondent gestures. Our minds and bodies are so closely 
and intimately connected, that one is incapable of pain or 
pleasure without the other. Campanella, of whom we have 
been speaking, could so abstract his attention from any suffer- 
ings of his body, that he was able to endure the rack itself 
without much pain ; and, in lesser pains, every body must have 
observed that, when we can employ our attention on any thing 
else, the pain has been for a time suspended : on the other 
hand, if, by any means, the body is indisposed to perform such 
gestures, or to be stimulated into such emotions as any passion 
usually produces in it, that passion itself never can arise, 
though its cause should be never so strongly in action, though 
it should be merely mental, and immediately affecting none of 
the senses. As an opiate or spirituous liquors shall suspend 
the operation of grief, or fear, or anger, in spite of all our 
efforts to the contrary ; and this by inducing in the body a 
disposition contrary to that which it receives from these 


" Qui pourra jamais dire en quoi reorganisation d'un imbe- 
cile differe de celle d'un autre homme ?"* — (The naturalist, 
whether Buffon or any other, who can ask this question, will 
never be satisfied with any given answer, even though it were 
the most formal demonstration.) 

" Diet and exercise would in vain be recommended to the 
dying." — (There are countenances which no human wisdom or 
power can rectify ; but that which is impossible to man is not 
so to God.) 

* Who can ever explain wherein consists the difference of organization 
between an idiot and another man ? 



"If the worm gnaws within, the appearance without is 
deformity and shame." — (Let the hypocrite, devoured by 
conscience, assume whatever artful appearance he may, of 
severity, tranquillity, or vague solemnity, his distortion will 
ever be apparent to the physiognomist.) 


" Take a tree from its native soil, its free air, and moun- 
tainous situation, and plant it in the confined circulation of a 
hot-house. There it may vegetate, but in a weak and sickly 
condition. Feed this foreign animal in a den ; you will feed 
in vain. — It starves in the midst of plenty, or grows fat and 
feeble.'" — (This, alas! is the mournful history of many a man.) 


"A portrait is the ideal of an individual, not of men in 
general." — (A perfect portrait is neither more nor less than 
the circular form of a man reduced to a flat surface, and 
which shall have the exact appearance of the person for whom 
it was painted, seen in a camera obscura.) 


I once asked a friend, " How does it happen that artful and 
subtle people always have one or both eyes rather closed V 
"Because they are feeble, 1 ' answered he. "Who ever saw 
strength and subtlety united? The mistrust of others is 
meanness towards ourselves." 


(This same friend, who, to me, is a man of ten thousand, 
for whatever relates to mind, wrote two valuable letters on 
physiognomy to me, from which I am allowed to make the 
following extracts.) 

" It appears to me to be an eternal law, that the first is the 
only true impression." — (A proper light and point of view 
being premised.) — "Of this I offer no proof, except by asserting 
such is my belief, and by appealing to the sensations of others. 


The stranger affects me by his appearance, and is, to my sen- 
sitive being, what the sun would be to a man born blind re- 
stored to sight." 


"Rousseau was right when he said of D — , 'That man does 
not please me, though he has never done me any injury, but I 
must break with him before it comes to that. 1 " 


" Physiognomy is to man as necessary" — (and as natural) 
— "as language." 


To those who contemn the Bible, whether they read, or 
scornfully neglect this fragment, I shall say, Truth is truth, 
even though found in the Scriptures. 

To those who reverence the Bible, and in whom, by this 
fragment, I endeavour to strengthen and increase this reve- 
rence, I shall say, Truth is divinely true and mighty, when it 
is the word of God. 

I need not remark, to either of these, that general truths 
are general truths, be they spoken by whom they may, or be 
they not spoken ; and that they do not cease to be such be- 
cause they have been cited by any particular person, on, or at 
any particular time, place, or occasion. Each word, whether of 
scripture or of man, has its permanent value, not to be deter- 
mined by the code of Cocceius,* but the code of reason. Be 
it understood we speak of general propositions, in which neither 
connexion, circumstance, nor the person of the speaker, come 
under consideration. "The whole is greater than a part." 

* Which has been a thousand times misapplied, and ten thousand times 
unwarrantably mutilated, falsified, cited, and decried, without the neces- 
sary adduced proofs. 


" He that exalteth himself shall be abased." Such axioms 
have their permanent value ; that is to say, each new occasion, 
on which they may be applied, does but confirm and generalize 
them more. The more ideas are included in one word, and 
the more cases an axiom is applied to, the more extensive and 
powerful will they be. What is a philosophical mind, if it be 
not the capacity of discovering many particular cases in general 
propositions, and many general in the particular ? 

Physiognomonical passages, therefore, and some physiogno- 
monical thoughts occasioned by passages not physiognomo- 


" Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in 
the light of thy countenance." — Psalm xc. 8. " Understand, 
ye brutish among the people : and ye fools, when will ye be 
wise ? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear ? He that 
formed the eye, shall he not see ? He that chastiseth the 
heathen, shall not he correct ? He that teacheth man know- 
ledge, shall not he know !" — Psalm xciv. 8 — 10. No man 
believes in the omniscience, or has so strong and full a convic- 
tion of the presence of God and his angels, or reads the hand 
of heaven so visible in the human countenance, as the phy- 


" Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit 
unto his stature ? * — " And why take ye thought for raiment V 
— " Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, 
and all these things shall be added unto you." — Matt. vi. 27, 
28, 33. No man, therefore, can alter his form. The improve- 
ment of the internal will also be the improvement of the ex- 
ternal ; let men take care of the internal, and a sufficient care 
of the external will be the result. 

" Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a 


sad countenance ; for they disfigure their faces that they may 
appear unto men to fast : verily I say unto you, they have 
their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head 
and wash thy face, that thou appear not unto men to fast, but 
unto thy Father which (who) is in secret ; and thy Father, 
which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." — Matt. vi. 
16 — 18. Virtue, like vice, may be concealed from men, but 
not from the Father in secret, nor from him in whom his spirit 
is, who fathoms not only the depths of humanity but of divi- 
nity. He is rewarded who means that the good he has should 
be seen in his countenance. — " The light of the body is the 
eye ; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be 
full of light ; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall 
bs full of darkness ; if, therefore, the light that is in thee 
be darkness, how great is that darkness ! " — Matt. vi. 22, 23. 
" Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in thee be not 
darkness. If thy whole body, therefore, be full of light, hav- 
ing no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the 
bright shining of a candle doth give thee light." — Luke xi. 
35, 36. 

This is physiognomonically, literally, true : a good eye, a 
good body. As the eye so the body. Dark look, dark body ; 
clear look, clear, free, and noble body. If the eye of the body 
be without light, I do not mean by sickness or accident, then 
is the whole body rugged, harsh, joyless, ponderous and op- 
press've as night. It is as physiognomonically true, also, that 
when nothing is oblique, sinister, dark, rough, incongruous, 
heterogeneous, in the body, then is all health and harmony, 
and every object bright. All shines in light the most beau- 
teous ; all is fresh and fair. The light is sufficient for all things, 
only let thine eye be single. See what is, without wishing to 
see it otherwise than it is, or to see what is not. 

" Some seeds fell by the way-side, and the fowls came 
and devoured them up ; some fell upon stony places, where 
they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, be- 
came they had no deepness of earth ; and when the sun was 



up they were scorched ; and because they had not root they 
withered away : and some fell among thorns, and the thorns 
sprung up and choked them ; but other fell into good ground, 
and brought forth fruit, some an hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, 
some thirty-fold:'' — Matt. xiii. 4—8. 

There are many men, many countenances, in whom nothing 
can be planted, each fowl devours the seed ; or they are hard 
like stone, with little earth (or flesh), have habits which stifle 
all that is good. There are others that have good bones, good 
flesh, with a happy proportion of each, and no stifling habits. 


" For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall 
have more abundance ; but whosoever hath not, from him shall 
be taken away even that he hath." — Matt. xiii. 12. True 
again of the good and bad countenance. He who is faithful to 
the propensities of nature, he hath, he enjoys, he will mani- 
festly be ennobled. The bad will lose even the good traits he 
hath received. 


" Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones ; 
for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always be- 
hold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 — Matt, xviii. 
10. Probably the angels see the countenance of the Father 
in the countenance of the children. 

" For there are some eunuchs which were so born from their 
mother's womb, and there are some eunuchs which were made 
eunuchs of men, and there be eunuchs which have made them- 
selves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." — Matt. xix. 
12. What learned professor can class better ! There are not 
only eunuchs, but strong, temperate, wise, and pleasing men, 
so born from their mother's womb. There are others who so 
have made themselves. 


" If any man have ears to hear let him hear. Do ye not 
perceive, that whatever thing from without entereth into the 


man it cannot defile him, because it entereth not into his heart, 
but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all 
meats ? And he said, that which cometh out of the man that 
defileth the man." — Mark vii. 16, 18 — 20. Once more phy- 
siognomonically true. Not external accidents, not spots which 
may be washed away, not wounds which may be healed, not 
even scars which remain, will defile the countenance in the eye 
of the physiognomist : neither can paint beautify it to him, for 
" though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap," 
■ — Jer. ii. 22, yet wilt thou be in his eyes a monster, if out of 
the heart proceed into the countenance " evil thoughts, mur- 
ders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." 
— Malt. xv. 19. There is the pharisee of physiognomy as well 
as of religion, and, probably, they are both the same. Let me 
continually repeat, " Cleanse first that which is within, that 
the outside may be clean also." — Matt, xxiii. 26. 

' : Verily, I say unto you all sins shall be forgiven unto the 
sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blas- 
pheme, but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, 
hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. 
— Because they said He hath an unclean spirit." — Mark iii. 
28 — 30. Whoever mistakes a man, feels not the innocence 
of his countenance, his goodness, fidelity, benevolence, and 
peaceful desires, may be pardoned. Such were the sins of 
those who blasphemed the Son of Man, who took offence at 
the humanity of the Messiah. But to feel these perfections, 
this spirit, in any man, and yet to blaspheme, is unpar- 

To blaspheme the spirit of a thing as far as it is known and 
felt is unpardonable ; that is to say, it shows a person natu- 
rally incorrigible. How much more to blaspheme the spirit 
of a benevolent man ; and yet how much more the spirit of 
Christ, so far as he was known, or felt, in his countenance, or 
his actions ? It is, certainly, an offence against God, treason 
against divine majesty, to insult a countenance replete with 
unction and mind. It is a very general warning of the Spirit 


of truth, " Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets on 
harm." — Psalm cv. 15. 

nr. PAUL. 

" A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." — Gal. v. 9. 
A little vice often deforms the whole countenance. One single 
false trait makes the whole a caricature. 

" The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weak- 
ness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, 
brethren, how that not many wise men, after the flesh, not 
many mighty, not many noble, are called ; but God hath 
chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, 
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound 
the things which are mighty ; that no flesh should glory in his 
presence: 1 — 1 Cor. i. 25—27, 29. 

Not the greatness of Eliab or of Saul was pleasing to God, 
but he chose the beautiful David, and the most rejected of all 
was the fairest of the children of men. How many unobserved, 
despised, oppressed countenances have traces of their divine 
election ! Numbers whom no man accounts beautiful, still are 
so accounted in the eyes of heaven. Not one of the favourites 
of God, however deformed the body may be, that has not some 
ray of divinity emanating from his countenance. 


" What ! know ye not that your body is the temple of the 
Holy Ghost which is in you V — 1 Cor. vi. 19. 

" If any man defile the temple of God him shall God de- 
stroy ; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." — 
1 Cor. iii. 17. " Destroy not him with thy meat for whom 
Christ died." — Rom. xiv. 15. 

" Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read 
of all men. Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be 


the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, 
but with the Spirit of the living God." — 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3. — 
What need have the good of letters of recommendation to the 
good ? The open countenance recommends itself to the open 
countenance. No letters of recommendation can recommend 
the perfidious countenance, nor can any slanderer deprive the 
countenance, beaming with the divine spirit, of its letters of 
recommendation. A good countenance is the best letter of 


I shall conclude with the important passage from the ninth 
of the Romans : — 

" For the children, being not yet born, neither having done 
any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to elec- 
tion might stand, not of works but of him that calleth, it was 
said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is 
written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What 
shall we say then, is there unrighteousness with God? God 
forbid ! For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I 
will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will 
have compassion. So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor 
of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For 
the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even for this same purpose 
have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee ; 
and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and 
whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then, unto me, 
Why doth he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will ? 
Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God ? 
Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast 
thou made me thus?* Hath not the potter power over the 
clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and 
another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his 
wrath, and to make his power known, endured, with much 

* " Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own ? Is thine 
eye evil because I am good ? So the last shall be first, and the first last, 
for many be called but few chosen." — Matt. xx. 15, 1G. 


long-suffering, the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction, and 
that he might make known the riches of his glory on the 
vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory ?" — 
Rom. ix. 11—23. 

To this I shall add nothing but — " God hath concluded them 
all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. — O the 
depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of 
God ! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past 
finding out ! For who hath known the mind of the Lord I Or, 
who hath been his counsellor ? Or, who hath first given to him, 
and it shall be recompensed unto him again ? For of him, and 
through him, and to him, are all things ; to whom be glory for 
ever. Amen." — Rom. xi. 32 — 36. 


" Will not physiognomy be to man what the looking-glass 
is to an ugly woman V — (Let me also add to the handsome 
woman. The wise looks in the glass, and washes away spots : 
the fool looks, turns back, and remains as he was.) 

" Each temperament, each character, has its good and bad. 
The one has inclinations of which the other is incapable. The 
one has more than the other. The ingot is of more worth 
than the guineas, individually, into which it is coined ; yet the 
latter are most useful. The tulip delights by its beauty, the 
carnation by its smell. The unseemly wormwood displeases 
both taste and smell, yet, in medicinal virtue, is superior to 
both. Thus is it that each contributes to the perfection of 
the whole." 

I add, from St. Paul. 

" For as we have many members in one body, and all mem- 
bers have not the same office, so we, being many, are one 
body, and have various gifts." — Rom. xii. 4. " Shall the foot 
say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body ? If the 



iviioie body were an eye, where were the hearing ? The eye 
cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee." — " And these 
members of the body which we think to be less honourable, 
upon these we bestow more abundant honour." — " But God 
hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant 
honour to that part which lacked, that there should be no 
schism in the body, but that the members should have the 
same care one for another." — 1 Cor. xii. 15 — 25. "But God 
hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the 
wise, and the weak to confound the things which are mighty ; 
and base things of the world, and things which are despised, 
hath God chosen ; yea and things which are not, to bring to 
naught things that are ; that no flesh should glory in his pre- 
sence." — 1 Cor. i. 27 — 29. " Let every man abide in the 
same calling wherein he was called." — 1 Cor. vii. 20. — The 
carnation should not wish to be the tulip, the finger an eye, 
nor the weak desire to act within the circle of the strong. 
Each has its peculiar circle, as it has its peculiar form : to 
wish to depart from this circle is like wishing to be transported 
into another body. 


" We are assured that the activity of nature wholly changes 
the body within a year, yet are we sensible of no change oi 
mind, although our body has been subjected to the greatest 
changes, in consequence of meat, drink, air, and other acci- 
dents; the difference of air, and manner of life, does not 
change the temperament." 

The foundation of character lies deeper, and is, in a cer- 
tain measure, independent of all accidents. It is probably the 
spiritual and immortal texture, into which all that is visible, 
corruptible, and transitory, is interwoven. 


" The statuary may carve a block of wood into what form 
lie shall please, may make it an Esop, or an Antinous ; but he 
will never change the inherent nature of the wood."* 

* Memoires pour servir a l'Hiatoire de Brandenbourg. 


To know, and to distinguish the materials and form of men, 
so far as knowledge contributes to their proper application, is 
the highest and most effectual wisdom of which human nature 
is capable. 


" There is something sublime which beams in the eyes of 
certain persons, and exacts reverence. This sublimity is the 
concealed power of raising themselves above others, which is 
not the wretched effect of constraint, but primitive essence, 
and is by nature herself directed to command. Each finds 
himself obliged to submit to this secret power, without know- 
ing why, as soon as he perceives that look, implanted by 
nature to inspire reverence, shining in the eyes. Those who 
possess this natural, sovereign essence, rule as lords, or lions 
among men by native privilege, with heart and tongue con- 
quering all." — Gratiani Orac. Max. 42. 

" There are only four principal aspects, all different from 
each other, the ardent, the dull, the fixed, and the fluctuating." 

The proof of all general propositions is their application. 
Let physiognomonical axioms be applied to known individuals, 
friends or enemies, and their truth or falsehood, precision or 
inaccuracy, will easily be determined. Let us make the expe- 
riment with the above, and we shall certainly find there are 
numerous aspects which are not included within these four ; 
such as the luminous aspect, very different from the ardent, 
and neither fixed, like the melancholic, nor fluctuating, like the 
sanguine. There is the look, or aspect, which is at once rapid 
and fixed ; and, as I may say, penetrates and attaches at the 
same moment. There is the tranquilly active look, neither 
choleric nor phlegmatic. I think it would be better to ar- 
range them into the giving, the receiving, and the giving and 
receiving combined ; or into intensive and extensive ; or into 
the attracting, repelling, and unparticipating ; into the con- 
tracted, the relaxed, the strained, the attaining, the unattain- 
ing, the tranquil, the steady, the slow, the open, the closed, the 


single, the single, tlie perplexed, the cold, the amorous, the 
complying, the firm, the courageous, the faithful, &c. 


I require nothing of thee, said a father to his innocent son, 
when bidding him farewell, but that thou shouldest bring me 
back this thy countenance. 


A noble, amiable, and innocent young lady, who had been 
chiefly educated in the country, saw her face in the glass, as 
she passed it with a candle in her hand, retiring from evening 
prayer, and having just laid down her Bible. Her eyes were 
cast to the ground, with inexpressible modesty, at the sight of 
her own image. She passed the winter in town, surrounded by 
adorers, hurried away by dissipation, and plunged in trifling 
amusement ; she forgot her Bible and her devotion. In the 
beginning of spring she returned again to her country seat, 
her chamber, and the table on which her Bible lay. Again 
she had the candle in her hand, and again saw herself in the 
glass. She turned pale, put down the candle, retreated to a 
sofa, and fell on her knees. — " Oh God ! I no longer know 
my own face. How am I degraded ! My follies and vanities 
are all written in my countenance. Wherefore have they been 
unseen, illegible, till this instant ? Oh come and expel, come 
and utterly efface them, mild tranquillity, sweet devotion, and 
ye gentle cares of benevolent love !" 


" I will forfeit my life," said Titus of the priest Tacitus, 
" if this man be not an arch knave. I have three times ob- 
served him sigh and weep, without cause ; and ten times turn 
aside, to conceal a laugh he could not restrain, when vice or 
misfortune were mentioned." 


A stranger said to a physiognomist, " How many dollars is 


my face worth f ' " It is hard to determine," replied the latter. 
" It is worth fifteen hundred," continued the questioner, " for 
so many has a person lent me upon it to whom I was a total 
stranger." • 


A poor man asked alms. " How much do you want !" 
said the person of whom he asked, astonished at the peculiar 
honesty of his countenance. " How shall I dare to fix the 
sum f answered the needy person : " give me what you please, 
Sir, I shall be contented and thankful." — " Not so," replied 
the physiognomist, " as God lives I will give you what you 
want, be it little or much." — " Then, Sir, be pleased to give 
me eight shillings." — " Here they are ; had you asked a hun- 
dred guineas you should have had them." 


Those who expect in this work an extensive and accurate 
essay on the temperaments, and their characteristics, will be 
mistaken. Much of what can be said, good and bad, has 
been, by Haller, Zimmermann, Ksempf, Oberreit, and a mul- 
titude of others, ancient and modern, from Aristotle to Huart, 
from Huart to Behmen, and from Behmen to Lawatz. I have 
not studied these writers ; that is to say, not sufficiently to un- 
derstand them perfectly, or to compare each with himself, then 
each with the other ; and, lastly, with general and individual 
nature. Yet thus much, I think, I may safely conclude, from 
all that 1 have read; that this subject, amply as it has been 
treated, requires new investigation. I have myself too little 
physiological knowledge, too little leisure and requisite sensa- 
tion, for this physiological chemical inquiry, to afford me any 
hope that I am qualified for a laboured and well-digested work 
of this kind. 

Little as I am able to promise, I yet will venture a short 
essay, not without hope of suggesting something which may 
hereafter be of service to this very important branch of the 
knowledge of man. 


It has been customary to characterize the four tempera- 
ments, and individually to apply the characteristics. Hence 
writers have run into an extreme, highly disgraceful to human 
reason. They have^lenied the diversity of temperaments. I 
find in the writers on temperament the same disgraceful ab- 
surdity as in some famous French works on generation and 
organization ; which are an indelible blemish, I will not say 
on the religion of their authors, but on the philosophy of the 
age and country. 

We could as soon doubt concerning the varieties of the 
human countenance as we can that each human body, as well 
as all bodies in general, is and are composed, after a deter- 
minate manner, of various congruous and incongruous ingre- 
dients : that there is, if I dare use the metaphor, a particular 
recipe, or form of mixture, in the great dispensatory of God, 
for each individual, by which his quantity of life, his kind of 
sensation, his capacity, and activity, are determined ; and 
that, consequently, each body has its individual temperament, 
or peculiar degree of irritability. That the humid and the 
dry, the hot and the cold, are the four principal qualities of 
the corporeal ingredients, is as undeniable as that earth and 
water, fire and air, are themselves the four principal ingre- 
dients. Hence there can be no doubt but that there will be 
four principal temperaments ; the choleric, originating from 
the hot ; the phlegmatic, from the moist ; the sanguine, from 
air; and the melancholic, from earth. That is to say, that 
these are predominant in, or incorporated with, the blood, 
nerves, and juices, and indeed in the latter, in the most subtle, 
and almost spiritual, active form. But it is equally indubi- 
table to me that these four temperaments are so intermingled 
that innumerable others must arise, and that it is frequently 
difficult to discover which preponderates ; especially since, 
from the combination and interchangeable attraction of those 
ingredients, a new power may originate, or be put in motion, 
the character of which may be entirely distinct from that of 
the two or three intermingling ingredients. This new power 
may be so distinct, so nameless, that we must be convinced 
that none of the customary appellations are proper. What 


is still more important, and less examined, is that nature her- 
self has so many elementary principles ; or, if so you please to 
call them, ingredients for the forming of bodies, besides those 
of water, air, earth, and fire, and which I do not find to be 
held in due estimation by writers on the temperaments, al- 
though they are so active in nature. — Oil, for example, quick- 
silver, sether, the electric and magnetic fluids. — (The aciclum 
pingue of Mayer, the frigorific matter of Schmidt, the fixed 
air of Black, and the nitrous air of the Abbe Fontana, it may 
be contested are the beings of hypothesis.) — There may be 
hundreds of such elementary ingredients, to which we have 
given no names ; but how many new classes of temperaments 
must originate only in three or four, and how infinite must be 
the varieties of their intermingling I Why should we not as 
well have an oily as a watery temperament ; a mercurial as an 
earthy ; or a temperament of sether as well as a temperament 
of air? 

To how many various mixtures and forms may Stahl's in- 
flammable essence, or element of viscosity, give birth ! Such 
as the oily, resinous, gummy, glutinous, milky, gelatinous, 
butyrous or buttery, caseous or cheesy, saponaceous, ceraceous 
or waxy, camphoric, inflammable, phosphoric, sulphureous, 
fuliginous, carbonous or coaly ; not one of which can supply 
the place of the other, and of which each, individually, has its 
peculiar properties and effects in nature and art. To these we 
may well be allowed to add the metalline mixtures ; and how 
numerous, how important, also, are their virtues ! That par- 
ticles of iron exist in the blood is now no longer doubted. 
How various are the salts which earth alone contains ! How 
inaccurate is it, therefore, to say, earthy temperament ! Nor 
would saline be better, since salts are as different, among 
themselves, as heat and cold, or as the acid from the alkaline, 
from which all the intervening kinds are formed. 

We may consequently find a better mode of considering tem- 
perament, physiognomonically and medicinally ; which mode 
shall, in a certain degree, depart from the customary, and in- 
troduce new, and probably more clear and definite distinctions. 

Whatever may be the internal nature of the body, its mate- 


rials, the composition of those materials, organization, blood, 
nervous system, manner of life, and nutriment, the result will, 
in all cases, be a certain portion of irritability, towards a cer- 
tain given point. As, therefore, it appears to me that the 
elasticity of the air is varied by its temperature, and cannot 
be determined by its internal analysis, but by the degree of its 
activity, so, in my opinion, also, is it with the temperaments 
of the human body. It is impossible, or scarcely possible, to 
analyze them internally. The result of their ingredients, and 
the mixture of these ingredients, will ever be the same — a cer- 
tain degree of irritability to a given point of irritation. 

Hence, I believe, that, in a certain measure, all tempera- 
ments may be more accurately determined after the barome- 
trical, or thermometrical, manner, than according to that in 
which they are usually classed ; though the latter, I grant, 
may be preserved when it is admitted that, in certain mixtures, 
which we at present call melancholic or sanguine, a certain 
excess, or want of irritability can never exist. That is, for 
example, when, in that mixture which we call melancholic, the 
degree of irritability, with respect to a certain object, never 
shall rise above, and in that which we call choleric, never sink 
below, the temperate. 

Irritability may be also applied to the four temperaments 
according to their comparative activity, and as they extend 
themselves in height, depth, distance, or proximity. Thus the 
irritability of the choleric takes flight at whatever is on high, 
without dread of danger. Fearful melancholy digs, and for- 
tifies itself, wherever it supposes it can find security. The 
sanguine roam thoughtless and headlong, without once con- 
sidering consequences ; while the phlegmatic neither sinks, 
soars, nor removes, and is only irritable to that which he can 
obtain by rest and ease. He goes to the near, where the way 
is smooth, not stepping beyond his small circle, out of which 
he can with difficulty be drawn. He disregards every thing 
beyond, and is most at his ease in the economical garden of 
Epicurus. Indolence is perhaps the highest good of the phleg- 
matic, as it was of Epicurus. 

Be it granted that the temperament of the body may be 


foir-d like that of the air, and it will then be necessary only 
to express the sum of the temperaments, or that which shall 
render its knowledge most useful by the degree of irritability. 

' There are numerous men of my acquaintance of whom I 
cannot say to which of the four temperaments they belong ; 
but if we suppose a scale of sensibility towards a certain object, 
and divided into a hundred parts, we may then, after accurate 
observation, say of numbers in which of the ten decades, or 
tenths, they rank. I repeat, towards a certain object ; for, as 
it has been, in part, remarked, each temperament has its own 
point of irritability ; its height, depth, distance, or proximity. 
There must, therefore, be a determinate object or point to 
which their attention must all be directed, and which shall 
affect them all ; like as the thermometer can only give ac- 
curate indications in the place where it constantly stands. 

Each may imagine a given point for himself. 

Each may make himself a thermometer of the temperaments 
by which he is affected. 

To explain myself, in some measure, I have here given the 
Farewell of Galas, after Chodowiecki. 


Tn this scene, the moist temperament is the least irritable . 

The airy irritable only to ineffectual tears : 

The fiery to powerful revenge : 

The earthy has no elasticity, exclaims not, but is oppressed, 
bowed down to the ground : 

The phlegmatic is round, smooth, full, and seated : 

The sanguine is erect ; springs, flutters ; is oval and pro- 
portionate : 

The choleric is angular, contracted, and stamping : 

The melancholic droops and sinks. 

In estimating temperament, or, as I would rather say, 
degrees of irritability to a given point, we must always care- 
fully distinguish two things ; momentaneous tension, and 
general irritability, or the physiognomy and pathos of the tem- 
perament. We are to inquire, how may this person be irri- 


tated ? What is his present degree of irritability ? What is 
the magnitude of his sphere of action ? Where does irrita- 
bility, at present, reside? What is its present weight, its 
possible power ? The sum total, therefore, of temperament, 
according to the metaphor we have formerly used, will be to be 
sought in the outline of the body at rest ; the interest of this 
sum total in the motion of the eyes, eyebrows and mouth, and 
momentary complexion. 

It will likewise be found that the temperament, or nervous 
irritability of organized life, terminates in defined or definable 
outlines ; that the profile, for exanmle, presents lines from the 
curvature of which the degree of irritability may be found. 

All outlines of the profile, and of the whole man, give cha- 
racteristic lines, which may be considered in a twofold manner, 
that is to say, according to their internal nature, and position. 
Their internal nature is, in like manner, twofold ; straight, or 
curved ; as is their external ; perpendicular, or oblique. Each 
has its numerous subordinations, which yet may be easily 
classed, as we have already shown in foreheads. If to these 
profile outlines we add the principal lines of the forehead, 
placing them one upon the other, I have no reason to doubt 
but that the general temperature of each man, and his highest 
and lowest degree of irritability towards a given object, may 
be thus ascertained. 

The pathos of temperament, in the moment of irritability, 
shows itself in the motion of the muscles, which, in all animal 
bodies, is governed by their qualities and form. Every head 
of man, it is true, is capable of the motion of every kind of 
passion ; but each has only this capability to a certain degree ; 
and, as this degree is much more difficult to find and to deter- 
mine than in the outlines at rest, and as we cannot so easily 
make deductions, respecting the degree of elasticity and irri- 
tability, from the outlines in motion as at rest, we ought, at 
first, to satisfy ourselves with the latter ; and, indeed, as the 
head is the sum of the body, and as the profile or outline of 
the forehead is the sum of the head, we may be satisfied with 
the outline, the profile of the face, or of the forehead. We 
already know that the more each line approaches a circle, or 


rather an oval, the less it denotes choler ; and that, on the 
contrary, it most denotes that temperament, the straighter, 
more oblique, and interrupted it is. 

1. The ne plus ultra of phlegm. 

2. Sanguine. 

3. 4, 5, 6. Different gradations of excessive choler. 

7, 8, 9. Some lines of melancholy, that is to say, character- 
istically strengthened. 

I am well convinced of the imperfection of these thoughts 
on temperaments, but I would not repeat what had been so 
often repeated. I shall only add, I hope that, by the aid of 
the determinate signs, lines, and outlines of the forehead, 
characters of irritability may be obtained for the principal 
classes ; as well as the proportions which exist between all 
outlines of the human forehead, and every other form which 
can affect the buman eye, or human sensation. 

I shall now, shortly, recapitulate some few things which are 
defective in my fragments ; shall ask a few questions which 1 
wish to be answered by any wise and worthy man. 

1. Can any man rid himself of, or entirely subdue, his tem- 
perament % Is it not with our temperament as with our senses 
and members? Since all the creatures of God are good, 
are not the powers of these creatures also good ? Does 
religion require more than that the immoderate should be re- 
duced to moderation ; and not to destroy such other powers as 
are good in man ; or than that we should change the objects 
of passion ? 

2. How must the phlegmatic father behave towards the 
choleric son ; the sanguine mother towards the melancholy 
daughter ? That is to say, how must one temperament act 
towards another ? 


3. What temperaments are* most capable of friendship ? 

4. Which are the happiest united in marriage ? 

5. Which are absolutely incapable of agreement and co- 
existence ? 

6. What ought to be required of each temperament ; and 
what should be the business and amusements of each ? What 
friend, what foe, can most incite pleasure or passion in each ? 

7. Has any temperament bad qualities which are not coun- 
terbalanced by good ? 

8. How are the various traits of the same temperament 
diversified by rank, age, and sex ? 


We call that human body strong, which can easily alter 
other bodies, without being easily altered itself. The more 
immediately it can act, and the less immediately it can be 
acted upon, the greater is its strength ; and the weaker, the 
less it can act, or withstand the action of others. 

There is a tranquil strength, the essence of which is immo- 
bility ; and there is an active strength, the essence of which 
is motion. The one has motion, the other stability, in an ex- 
traordinary degree. There is the strength of the rock, and 
the elasticity of the spring. 

There is the Herculean strength of bones and sinews ; thick, 
firm, compact, and immoveable as a pillar. 

There are heroes less Herculean, less firm, sinewy, large ; 
less set, less rocky, who yet, when roused, when opposed in 
their activity, will meet oppression with so much strength, wiH 
resist weight with such elastic force, as scarcely to be equalled 
by the most bony and muscular strength. 

The elephant has native, bony strength. Irritated or not, 
he bears prodigious burdens, and crushes all on which he 
treads. An irritated wasp has strength of a totally different 
kind ; but both have compactness for their foundation, and, 
especially, the firmness of construction. 

All porosity destroys strength. 

The strength, like the understanding, of a man, is discovered 

iss. 335 

by its being more or less corJpct. The elasticity of a body 
has signs so remarkable that 'they will not permit us to con- 
found such body with one that is not elastic. How manifest 
are the varieties of strength, between the foot of an elephant 
and a stag ; a wasp and a fly ! 

Tranquil, firm strength, is shown in the proportions of the 
form, which ought rather to be short than long. 

In the thick neck, the broad shoulders, and the countenance ; 
which, in a state of health, is rather bony than fleshy. 

In the short, compact, and knotty forehead ; and, especially, 
when the sinus frontales are visible, but not too far project- 
ing; flat in the middle, or suddenly indented, but not in 
smooth cavities. 

In horizontal eyebrows, situated near the eye. 

Deep eyes, and steadfast look. 

In the broad, firm nose, bony near the forehead ; and, espe- 
cially, in its straight, angular outlines. 

In short, thick, curly hair of the head, and beard. 

In short, broad teeth, standing close to each other? In com- 
pact lips, of which the under rather projects than retreats. In 
the strong, prominent, broad chin. 

In the strong, projecting os occipitis. 

In the bass voice ; the firm step ; and in sitting still. 

Elastic strength, the living power of irritability, must bo 
discovered in the moment of action ; and the firm signs must 
afterwards be abstracted, when the excited power is once more 
at rest. — " This body, therefore, which at rest was capable of 
so little, acted and resisted so weakly, can, thus irritated, and 
with this degree of tension, become thus powerful." — On 
inquiry we shall find that this strength, awakened by irrita- 
tion, generally resides in thin, tall, but not very tall, and bony, 
rather than muscular bodies : in bodies of dark, or pale com- 
plexions ; of rapid motion, joined with a certain kind of stiff- 
ness ; of hasty and firm walk ; of fixed, penetrating look ; and 
with open lips, but easily, and accurately, to be closed. 

Signs of weakness are, disproportionate length of body ; 


much flesh, little bone ; extension ; a tottering frame ; a loose 
skin ; round, obtuse, and particularly hollow outlines of the 
forehead and nose ; smallness of nose and chin ; little nostrils ; 
the retreating chin ; long, cylindrical neck ; the walk very 
hasty, or languid, without firmness of step ; the timid aspect ; 
closing eyelids ; open mouth ; long teeth ; the jaw-bone long, 
but bent towards the ear ; whiteness of complexion ; teeth 
inclined to be yellow or green : fair, long, and tender hair ; 
shrill voice. 


Not I, but an experienced physician ought to write on the 
physiognomonical, and pathognomonical semeiotica of health 
and sickness, and describe the physiological character of the 
body, and its propensities to this or that disorder. I am 
beyond description ignorant with respect to the nature of dis- 
orders and their signs ; still may I, in consequence of the 
few observations I have made, declare, with some certainty, 
by repeatedly examining the firm parts and outlines of the 
bodies and countenances of the sick, that it is not difficult to 
predict what are the diseases to which the man in health is 
most liable. Of what infinite importance would such physiog- 
nomonical semeiotics, or prognostics of possible or probable 
disorders be, founded on the nature and form of the body ! 
How essential were it, could the physician say to the healthy, 
" You naturally have, some time in your life, to expect this or 
that disorder. Take the necessary precautions against such 
or such a disease. The virus of the small-pox slumbers in 
your body, and may thus or thus be put in motion. Thus the 
hectic, thus the intermittent, and thus the putrid fever." — Oh 
how worthy, Zimmermann, would a treatise on physiognomo- 
nical Disetetice (or regimen) be of thee ! 

Whoever shall read this authors work, on " Experience, 1 ' 
will see how characteristically he describes various diseases 
which originate in the passions. Some quotations from this 
work, which will justify my wish, and contain the most 


valuable semeiotical remarks, cannot be unacceptable to tbe 
reader. The first is from Part I. chap. viii. page 401. f. 
" The observing mind examines the physiognomy of the sick, 
the signs of which extend over the whole body, but the pro- 
gress and change of the disease is principally to be found in 
the countenance and its parts. Sometimes the patient carries 
the marks of his disease. In burning, bilious, and hectic 
fevers ; in the chlorosis ; the common and black jaundice ; in 
worm cases. 11 — (I, who know so little of physic, have several 
times discovered the disease of the tape worm in the counte- 
nance.) — " In the furor uterinus, the least observant can read 
the disease. The more the countenance is changed, in burn- 
ing fevers, the greater is the danger. A man whose natural 
aspect is mild and calm, but who stares at me, with a florid 
complexion, and wildness in his eyes, prognosticates an ap- 
proaching delirium. I have likewise seen a look indescribably 
wild, accompanied by paleness, when nature, in an inflamma- 
tion of the lungs, was approaching a crisis, and the patient 
was become excessively cold and frantic. The countenance 
relaxed, the lips pale and hanging, in burning fevers, are bad 
symptoms, as they denote great debility ; and, if the change 
and decay of the countenance be sudden, the danger is great. 
When the nose is pointed, the face of a lead colour, and the 
lips livid, inflammation has produced gangrene. There is, 
frequently, something dangerous to be observed in the coun- 
tenance, which cannot be known from other symptoms, and 
which, yet, is very significant. Much is to be observed in the 
eyes. Boerhaave examined the eyes of the patient with a 
magnifying glass, that he might see if the blood entered the 
smaller vessels. Hippocrates held that the avoiding of light, 
involuntary tears, squinting, one eye less than the other, the 
white of the eye inflamed, the small veins inclined to be black, 
too much swelled, or too much sunken, were, each and all, bad 
symptoms (page 432). The motion of the patient, and his 
position in bed, ought, likewise, to be enumerated among the 
particular symptoms of disease. The hand carried to the 
forehead, waved, or groping in the air, scratching on the wall, 
and pulling up the bed clothes, are of this kind. The posi- 



tion ill bed is a very significant sign of the internal situation 
of the patient, and therefore deserves every attention. The 
more unusual the position is, in any inflammatory disease, the 
more certainly may we conclude that the anguish is great, 
and, consequently, the danger. Hippocrates has described the 
position of the sick, in such cases, with accuracy that leaves 
nothing to be desired. — The best position in sickness is the 
usual position in health. 1 '' 

I shall add some other remarks from this physician and 
physiognomist, whose abilities are superior to envy, ignorance, 
and quackery. (Page 452,) " Swift was lean while he was the 
prey of ambition, chagrin, and ill temper ; but after the loss 
of his understanding he became fat." — His description of envy 
and its effects on the body are incomparable. (Part II. 
chap, xi.) " The effects of envy are visible, even in children. 
They become thin, and easily fall into consumptions. Envy 
takes away the appetite and sleep, and causes feverish motion ; 
it produces gloom, shortness of breath, impatience, restlessness, 
and a narrow chest. The good name of others, on which it 
seeks to avenge itself by slander, and feigned but not real 
contempt, hangs like the sword suspended by a hair, over the 
head of Envy, that continually wishes to torture others, and is 
itself continually on the rack. — The laughing simpleton be- 
comes disturbed as soon as Envy, that worst of fiends, takes 
possession of him, and he perceives that he vainly labours to 
debase that merit which he cannot rival. His eyes roll, he 
knits his forehead, he becomes morose, peevish, and hangs his 
lips. There is, it is true, a kind of envy that arrives at old 
age. Envy in her dark cave, possessed by toothless furies, 
there hoards her poison, which, with infernal wickedness, she 
endeavours to eject, over each worthy person, and honourable 
act. She defends the cause of vice, endeavours to confound 
right and wrong. She vitally wounds the purest innocence." 

The writers most known, and oftenest quoted, by physicians, 
on semeiotics, are Aretseus, Lomnius, J^milius Campolongus, 
Wolf, Hoffman, Wedel, Schrceder, Vater. 

I am also acquainted with two dissertations on the same 
subject, one by Samuel Quelmaltz, " De Prosoposcopia, Me- 


dica." Leipzig, 1748 ; and the other by the famous Stahl, 
" De facie morborum indice, seu morborum sestimatione ex 
facie." Halle, 1700. 

But the work which is most perfect, full, and deserving of 
attention, is " Thomse Fieni philosophi ac medici prsestantis- 
simi Semeiotice, sive de signis medicis." Lugduni, 1664. Yet 
this acute writer has scarcely noticed the prognostics of dis- 
ease from the figure of the body, but has, like others, been 
much more attentive to the diagnostics. 



That there is national physiognomy, as well as national cha- 
racter, is undeniable. Whoever doubts of this can never have 
observed men of different nations, nor have compared the in- 
habitants of the extreme confines of any two. Compare a 
Negro and an Englishman, a native of Lapland and an Ita- 
lian, a Frenchman and an inhabitant of Terra del Fuego. 
Examine their forms, countenances, characters, and minds. 
Their difference will be easily seen, though it will, sometimes, 
be very difficult to describe scientifically. 

It is probable we shall discover what is national in the 
countenance better from the sight of an individual, at first, 
than of a whole people ; at least, so I imagine, from my own 
experience. Individual countenances discover more the cha- 
racteristics of a whole nation, than a whole nation does that 
which is national in individuals. The following, infinitely little, 
is what I have hitherto observed, from the foreigners with 
whom I have conversed, and whom I have noticed, concerning 
national character. 

The French I am least able to characterize. — They have no 
traits so bold as the English, nor so minute as the Germans. 
I know them chiefly by their teeth, and their laugh. The 
Italians I discover by the nose, small eyes, and projecting 
chin. The English, by their foreheads, and eyebrows. The 


Dutch, by the rotundity of the head, and the weakness of the 
hair. The Germans, by the angles and wrinkles round the 
eyes, and in the cheeks. The Russians, by the snub nose, 
and their light- coloured, or black hair. I shall now say a 
word concerning Englishmen, in particular. Englishmen have 
the shortest, and best arched foreheads ; that is to say, they 
are arched only upwards ; and, towards the eyebrows, either 
gently decline, or are rectilinear. They very seldom have 
pointed, but often round, full, medullary noses ; the Quakers 
and Moravians excepted, who, wherever they are found, are 
generally thin-lipped. Englishmen have large, well-defined, 
beautifully curved lips ; they have also a round, full chin ; 
but they are peculiarly distinguished by the eyebrows and 
eyes, which are strong, open, liberal, and steadfast. The 
outline of their countenances is, in general, great, and they 
never have those numerous, infinitely minute, traits, angles, 
and wrinkles, by which the Germans are so especially distin- 
guished. Their complexion is fairer than that of the Germans. 

All English women whom I have known personally, or by 
portrait, appear to be composed of marrow and nerve. They 
are inclined to be tall, slender, soft, and as distant from all 
that is harsh, rigorous, or stubborn, as heaven is from earth. 

The Swiss, generally, have no common physiognomy, or 
national character, the aspect of fidelity excepted. They are 
as different from each other as nations the most remote. The 
French Swiss peasant is as distinct as possible from the peasant 
of Appenzel. It may be that the eye of a foreigner would 
better discover the general character of the nation, and in 
what it differs from the French or German, than that of the 

In each canton of Switzerland I find characteristic varieties. 
The inhabitant of Zurich, for instance, is middle sized, more 
frequently meagre than corpulent, but usually one or the other. 
They seldom have ardent eyes, large, or small noses ; the out- 
line is not, often, either grand or minute. The men are sel- 
dom handsome, though the youth are incomparably so ; but 
they soon alter. The people of Berne are tall, straight, fair, 
pliable, and firm; and are most distinguishable by their upper 


teeth, which are white, regular, and easily to be seen. The 
inhabitants of Basle (or Basil) are more rotund, full, and tense 
of countenance, the complexion tinged with yellow, and the 
lips open and flaccid. Those of Schaffhausen are hard boned. 
Their eyes are seldom sunken, but are generally prominent. 
The sides of the forehead diverge over the temples ; the cheeks 
fleshy, and the mouth wide and open. They are commonly 
stronger built than the people of Zurich, though, in the canton 
of Zurich, there is scarcely a village in which the inhabitants 
do not differ from those of the neighbouring village, without 
attending to dress, which, notwithstanding, is also physiogno- 

Round W'adenschweil and Oberreid, I have seen many 
handsome, broad-shouldered, strong, burden-bearing men. — 
At Weiningen, two leagues from Zurich, I met, about evening, 
a company of well-formed men, who were distinguishable for 
their cleanliness, circumspection, and gravity of deportment. 

An extremely interesting and instructive book might be 
written on the physiognomonical characters of the peasants in 
Switzerland. There are considerable districts where the coun- 
tenances, the nose excepted, are most of them broad, as if 
pressed flat witli a board. This disagreeable form, wherever 
found, is consistent with the character of the people. What 
could be more instructive than a physiognomonical and charac- 
teristic description of such villages, their mode of living, food, 
and occupation ? 


" Traversing the surface of the earth, and beginning in the 
north, we find, in Lapland, and on the northern coasts of 
Tartary, a race of men, small of stature, singular of form, and 
with countenances as savage as their manners.'" — " These 
people have large, flat faces, the nose broad, the pupil of the 
eye of a yellow brown, inclining to a black, the eyelids retiring 

* The following quotations are translated from Buffon, not from the 
German. — T. 


towards the temples, the cheeks extremely high, the mouth 
very large, the lower part of the face narrow, the lips full and 
high, the voice shrill, the head large, the hair black and sleek, 
and the complexion brown, or tanned. They are very small, 
and squat, though meagre. Most of them are not above five 
feet, and the least not more than four feet and a half high." — 
" The Borandians are still smaller than the Laplanders." — 
" The Samoiedes more squat, with large heads and noses, and 
darker complexions. Their legs are shorter, their knees more 
turned outward, their hair is longer, and they have less beard. 
The complexion of the Greenlanders is darker still, and of a 
deep olive colour." — " The women, among all these nations, 
are as ugly as the men." — " And not only do these people re- 
semble each other in ugliness, size, and the colour of their 
eyes and hair, but they have similar inclinations and manners, 
and are all equally gross, superstitious, and stupid." — " Most 
of them are idolaters, they are more rude than savage, wanting 
courage, self-respect, and prudency." — " If we examine the neigh 
bouring people of the long slip of land which the Laplanders 
inhabit, we shall find they have no relation whatever with that 
race, excepting only the Ostiacks and Tongusians. The Sa- 
moiedes and the Borandians have no resemblance with the 
Russians, nor have the Laplanders with the Finlanders, the 
Goths, Danes, or Norwegians. The Greenlanders are alike 
different from the savages of Canada. The latter are tall, and 
well made ; and, though they differ very much from each other, 
yet they are still more infinitely different from the Laplanders. 
The Ostiacks seem to be Samoiedes something less ugly, and 
dwarfish, for they are small and ill-formed." 

" All the Tartars have the upper part of the countenance 
very large, and wrinkled even in youth, the nose short and 
gross, the eyes small and sunken, the cheeks very high, the 
lower part of the face narrow, the chin long and prominent, 
the upper jaw sunken, the teeth long and separated, the eye- 
brows large, covering the eyes, the eyelids thick, the face flat, 
their skin of an olive colour, and their hair black. They are 
of a middle stature, but very strong and robust ; have little 


beard, which grows in small tufts, like that of the Chinese, 
thick thighs, and short legs." 

" The little, or Nogais Tartars have lost a part of their 
ugliness by having intermingled with the Circassians. 11 — " As 
we proceed eastward, into free or independent Tartary, the 
features of the Tartars become something less hard, but the 
essential characteristics of their race ever remain. The 
M ongul Tartars, who conquered China, and who were the most 
polished of these nations, are, at present, the least ugly and 
ill-made : yet have they, like the others, small eyes, the face 
large and flat, little beard, but always black or red, and the 
nose short and compressed." — " Among the Kergisi and 
Tcherimisi Tartars, there is a whole nation, or tribe, the men 
and women among whom are very singularly beautiful." — " The 
manners of the Chinese and Tartars are wholly opposite, more 
so than are their countenances and forms." — " The limbs of the 
Chinese are well proportioned, large and fat. Their faces are 
round and capacious, their eyes small, their eyebrows large, 
their eyelids raised, and their noses little and compressed. 
They have only seven or eight tufts of black hair on each lip, 
and very little on the chin." 

" The inhabitants of the coast of New Holland, which lies 
in 16° 15' of south latitude, and to the south of the Isle of 
Timor, are perhaps the most miserable people on earth, and of 
all the human race most approach the brute animal. They are 
tall, upright, and slender. Their limbs are long and supple ; 
their head is large, their forehead round, their eyebrows are 
thick, and their eyelids always half shut. This they acquire by 
habit in their infancy, to preserve their eyes from the gnats, 
by which they are greatly incommoded, and, as they never open 
their eyes, they cannot see at a distance, at least, not unless 
they raise the head as if they wished to look at something 
above them. They have large noses, thick lips, and wide 
mouths. It should seem that they draw the two upper fore 
teeth, for neither men nor women, young nor old, have these 
teeth. They have no beard ; their faces are long, and very 


disagreeable, without a single pleasing feature ; their hair is 
not long, and sleek, like that of most of the Indians, but short, 
black, and curly, like the hair of the Negroes. Their skin 
is black, and resembles that of the Indians of the coast of 

" If we now examine the nations inhabiting a more temperate 
climate, we shall find that the people of the northern pro- 
vinces, of the Mogul Empire, Persia, the Armenians, Turks, 
Georgians, Mingrelians, Circassians, Greeks, and all the inha- 
bitants of Europe, are the handsomest, wisest, and best formed 
of any on earth ; and that, though the distance between Ca- 
chemire and Spain, or Circassia and France, is very great, 
there is still a very singular resemblance between people so far 
from each other, but situated in nearly the same latitude. The 
people of Cachemire are renowned for beauty, are as well 
formed as the Europeans, and have nothing of the Tartar 
countenance, the flat nose, and the small pig's eyes, which are 
so universal among their neighbours." — " The complexion of 
the Georgians is still more beautiful than that of Cachemire ; 
no ugly face is found in the country, and nature has endowed 
most of the women with graces, which are nowhere else to be 
discovered." — " The men, also, are very handsome, have na- 
tural understanding, and would be capable of arts and sciences, 
did not their bad education render them exceedingly ignorant 
and vicious. 11 — " Yet, with all their vices, the Georgians are 
civil, humane, grave, and moderate ; they seldom are under 
the influence of anger, though they become irreconcilable 
enemies, having once entertained hatred. 11 — " The Circassians 
and Mingrelians are equally beautiful and well-formed." — 
" The lame and the crooked are seldom seen among the 
Turks." — " The Spaniards are meagre, and rather small ; they 
are well-shaped, have fine heads, regular features, good eyes, 
and well-arranged teeth, but their complexions are dark, and 
inclined to yellow. 11 — " It has been remarked that in some 
provinces of Spain, as near the banks of the river Bidassoa, 
the people have exceedingly large ears." — (Can large ears hear 
better than small ? I know one person with large, rude ears, 


whose sense of hearing is acute, and who has a good under- 
standing, but, him excepted, I have particularly remarked 
large ears to betoken folly ; and that, on the contrary, ears 
inordinately small, appertain to very weak, effeminate charac- 
ters, or persons of too great sensibility.) — " Men with black 
or dark brown hair begin to be rather uncommon in England, 
Flanders, Holland, and the northern provinces of Germany ; 
and few such are to be found in Denmark, Sweden, and 
Poland. According to Linnaeus, the Goths are very tall, have 
sleek, light-coloured, silver hair, and blue eyes. The Fin- 
landers are muscular and fleshy, with long and light yellow 
hair, the iris of the eye a deep yellow." 

" It seems, if we collect the accounts of travellers, that 
there are as many varieties among the race of Negroes as 
among the Whites. They also have their Tartars, and their 
Circassians. The Blacks on the coast of Guinea are extremely 
ugly, and emit an insufferable scent. Those of Sofala and 
Mozambique are handsome, and have no ill smell." — "These 
two species of Negroes resemble each other rather in colour 
than features ; their hair, skin, the odour of their bodies, their 
manners and propensities are exceedingly different." — " Those 
of Cape Verd have by no means so disagreeable a smell as the 
natives of Angola ; their skin, also, is more smooth and black, 
their body better made, their features less hard, their tempers 
more mild, and their shape better. — The Negroes of Senegal 
are the best formed, and best receive instruction. — The Nagos 
are the most humane, the Mondongos the most cruel, the 
Mimes the most resolute, capricious, and subject to despair." 
— (If this be so, let these heads be first and singly studied, 
and all that is common to character collected.) — " The Guinea 
Negroes are extremely limited in their capacities. Many of 
them even appear to be wholly stupid ; or, never capable of 
counting more than three, remain in a thoughtless state if not 
acted upon, and have no memory." — " Yet, bounded as is their 
understanding, they have much feeling — have good hearts, and 
the seeds of all virtue." — " The Hottentots all have very flat 
and broad noses, but these they would not have did not their 


mothers suppose it their duty to flatten the nose shortly after 
birth." — (It ought not to be so positively affirmed they would 
not have such, till we first had considered the form of the 
head, such as given by nature, and thence deduced the form 
of the nose. There are evidently forms of skulls which, na- 
turally, have flat noses ; and others, in which, external vio- 
lence excepted, they cannot be flattened. The very custom of 
pressing the nose flat, ought, perhaps, to be considered as a 
proof that this form is more natural than any other to these 
people.)— " They have also very thick lips, especially the 
upper ; the teeth white, the eyebrows thick, the head heavy, 
the body meagre, and the limbs slender. — The inhabitants of 
Canada, and of all these confines, are rather tall, robust, 
strong, and tolerably well made ; have black hair and eyes, 
very white teeth, tawny complexions, little beard, and no hair, 
or almost none, on any other part of the body. They are 
hardy and indefatigable in marching ; swift of foot ; alike sup- 
port the extremes of hunger, or excess in feeding ; are daring, 
courageous, haughty, grave and moderate. So strongly do 
they resemble the eastern Tartars in complexion, hair, eyes, 
the almost want of beard and hair, as well as in their incli- 
nations and manners, that we should suppose them the de- 
scendants of that nation, did we not see the two people sepa- 
rated from each other by a vast ocean. They, also, are under 
the same latitude, which is an additional proof of the influence 
of climate on the colour, and even on the form of man. 1 '' — 
(To which we may add character, mind, and manners.) 


Page 131. "The supposition of Maupertuis that a race of 
men might be established in any province, in whom under- 
standing, probity, and strength, should be hereditary, could 
only be realized by the possibility of separating the degenerate 
from the conformable births ; a project which, in my opinion, 
might be practicable, but which, in the present order of things, 


is prevented by the wiser dispositions of nature, according to 
which the wicked and the good are intermingled, that by the 
irregularities and vices of the former the latent powers of the 
latter may be put in motion, and impelled to approach perfec- 
tion. If nature, without transplantation or foreign mixture, 
be left undisturbed, she will, after many generations, produce 
a lasting race that shall ever remain distinct." 

Page 1S3. " If we divide the human race into four principal 
classes, I believe all the intermediate ones, however perpetu- 
ating and conspicuous, may be immediately reduced to one of 
these. 1, The race of Whites. 2, The Negroes. 3, The 
Huns, Monguls, or Calmucs. 4, The Hindoos, or people of 

Page 141. " External things may well be the accidental, but 
not the primary causes of what is inherited or assimilated. As 
little as chance, or physico-mechanical causes can produce an 
organized body, as little can they add any thing to its power of 
propagation ; that is to say, produce a thing which shall propa- 
gate itself by having a peculiar form, or proportion of parts.'" 

Page 143. " Man was designed to be the inhabitant of all 
climates, and all soils. Hence the seeds of many internal 
propensities must be latent in him, which shall remain inac- 
tive, or be put in motion, according to his situation on the 
earth ; so that, in progressive generation, he shall appear as 
if born for that particular soil in which he seems planted." 

Page 144. " The air and the sun appear to be those causes 
which most influence the powers of propagation, and effect a 
durable development of germs and propensities ; that is to 
say, the air and the sun may be the origin of a distinct race. 
The variations which food may produce must soon disappear 
on transplantation. That which affects the propagating pow- 
ers must not act upon the support of life, but upon its original 
source, its first principles, animal conformation and motion. 
A man transplanted to the frigid zone must decrease m sta- 
ture, since, if the power or momentum of the heart continues 
the same, the circulation must be performed in a shorter time, 
the pulse become more rapid, and the heat of the blood in- 
creased. Thus Crantz found the Greenlanders not only infe- 


rior in stature to the Europeans, but also that they had a 
remarkably greater heat of body. The very disproportion be- 
tween the length of the body and the shortness of the legs in 
the northern people, is suitable to their climate; since the 
extremes of the body, by their distance from the heart, are 
more subject to the attacks of cold." 

Page 146. " The prominent parts of the countenance, which 
can less be guarded from cold, by the care of nature for their 
preservation, have a propensity to become more flat. The 
rising cheek-bones, the half-closed, blinking eyes, appear to be 
intended for the preservation of sight against the dry, cold air, 
and the effusion of light from the snow, (to guard against 
which the Esquimaux now use spectacles,) though they may 
be the natural effect of the climate, since they are found only 
in a smaller degree, in milder latitudes. Thus gradually are 
produced the beardless chin, the flattened nose, thin lips, 
blinking eyes, flat countenance, red-brown complexion, black 
hair, and, in a word, the face of the Calmuc. Such properties, 
by continued propagation, at length form a distinct race, 
which continues to remain distinct, even when transplanted 
into warmer climates." 

Page 149. "The red-brown, or copper colour, appears to 
be as natural an effect of the acidity of the air, in cold climate, 
as the olive-brown of the alkaline, and bilious quality of the 
juices, in warm ; without taking the native disposition of the 
American into the estimate, who appears to have lost half the 
powers of life, which may be regarded as the effect of cold." 

Page 150. " The growth of the porous parts of the body 
must increase in the hot and moist climate. Hence the thick 
short nose and projecting lips. The skin must be oiled, not 
only to prevent excessive perspiration, but also the imbibing 
the putrescent particles of the moist air. The surplus of the 
ferrugineous, or iron particles, which have lately been disco- 
vered to exist in the blood of man, and which, by the evapora- 
tion of the phosphoric acidities, of which all negroes smell so 
strong, being cast upon the retiform membrane, occasions the 
blackness which appears through the cuticle, and this strong 
retention of the ferruginous particles seems to be necessary, 


ia order to prevent the general relaxation of the parts. Moist 
warmth is peculiarly favourable to the growth of animals, and 
produces the negro, who, by the providence of nature, per- 
fectly adapted to his climate, is strong, muscular, agile ; but 
dirty, indolent, and trifling." 

Page 1 61. " The trunk, or stem, of the root may degenerate ; 
but this having once taken root, and stifled other germs, resists 
any future change of form ; the character of the race having 
once gained a preponderance in the propagating powers '•' 


" Our eyes convince us, with respect to the form of man, 
that the character of nation, as well as of mind, is visible in 
the countenance. As nature has separated large districts by 
mountains and waters, so has she, likewise, distinguished the 
inhabitants by peculiarity of features. In countries far dis- 
tant from each other, the difference is, likewise, visible in 
other parts of the body, and in stature. Animals are not 
more varied, according to the properties of the countries they 
inhabit, than men are ; and some have pretended to remark 
that animals even partake of the propensities of the men. 
The formation of the countenance is as various as languages, 
nay, indeed, as dialects, which are thus or thus various in con- 
sequence of the organs of speech. In cold countries, the fibres 
of the tongue must be less flexible, and rapid, than in warm. 
The natives of Greenland and certain tribes of America are 
observed to want some letters of the alphabet, which must 
originate in the same cause. Hence it happens that the 
northern languages have more monosyllables, and are more 
clogged with consonants, the connecting and pronouncing of 
which is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to other nations. 
A celebrated writer has endeavoured to account for the varie- 
ties of the Italian dialects, from the formation of the organs 
of speech. For this reason, says he, the people of Lombardy, 
inhabiting a cold country, have a more rough and concise pro- 
nunciation. The inhabitants of Florence and Rome speak in 
a more measured tone, and the Neapolitans, under a still 
warmer sky, pronounce the vowels more open, and speak with 


more fulness. Persons well acquainted with various nations 
can distinguish them as justly from the form of their counte- 
nance as from their speech. Therefore, since man has ever 
been the object of art and artists, the latter have constantly 
given the forms of face of their respective nations ; and that 
art, among the ancients, gave a certain character to the hu- 
man form and countenance, is proved by the same effect 
having taken place among the moderns. German, Dutch, or 
French artists, when they neither travel nor study foreign 
forms, may be known by their pictures as perfectly as Chinese or 
Tartarian. After residing many years in Italy, Rubens conti- 
nued to draw his figures as if he had never left his native land. 1 ' 


" The projecting mouths of the Negroes, which they have 
in common with their monkeys, is an excess of growth, a 
swelling, occasioned by the heat of' the climate ; like as our 
lips are swelled by heat or sharp saline moisture ; and, also, 
in some men, by violent passion. The small eyes of the dis- 
tant northern and eastern nations are in consequence of the 
imperfection of their growth. They are short and slender. 
Nature produces such forms the more she approaches extremes 
where she has to encounter heat or cold. In the one she is 
prompter and exhausted ; and, in the other, crude, never ar- 
riving at maturity. The flower withers in excessive heat, and, 
deprived of sun, is deprived of colour. All plants degenerate 
in dark and confined places. 

" Nature forms with greater regularity the more she ap- 
proaches her centre, and in more moderate climates. Hence 
our and the Grecian ideas of beauty, being derived from more 
perfect symmetry, must be more accurate than the ideas of 
those in whom, to use the expression of a modern poet, the 
image of the Creator is half defaced." 


" The Americans are most remarkable because that many 
of them have no eyebrows, and none have beards ; yet we 


must not infer that they are enfeebled in the organs of gene- 
ration, since the Tartars and Chinese have almost the same 
characteristics. They are far, however, from being very fi uit- 
ful, or much addicted to love. True it is, the Chinese and the 
Tartars are not absolutely beardless. When they are about 
thirty, a small pencilled kind of whisker grows on the upper 
lip, and some scattered hairs are found at the end of the chin." 
— Tome i. p. 37. 

" Exclusive of the Esquimaux, who differ in gait, form, 
features and manners, from other savages of North America, 
we may likewise call the Akansans a variety, whom the French 
have generally named the handsome men. They are tall and 
straight, have good features, without the least appearance of 
beard ; regular eyelids, blue eyes, and fine fair hair ; while the 
neighbouring people are low of stature, have abject counte- 
nances, black eyes, the hair of the head black as ebony, and of 
the body, thick and rough."- — Page 135. 

" The Peruvians are not very tall ; but, though thick set, 
they are tolerably well made. There are many, it is true, 
who, by being diminutive, are monstrous. Some are deaf, 
dumb, blind, and idiots ; and others want a limb, when born. 
In all probability, the excessive labour to which they have been 
subjected, by the barbarity of the Spaniards, has produced 
such numbers of defective men. Tyranny has an influence 
even on the physical temperament of slaves. Their nose is 
aquiline ; their forehead narrow ; their hair black, strong, 
smooth, and plentiful ; their complexion an olive red ; the 
apple of the eye black, and the white not very clear. They 
never have any beard, for we cannot bestow that name on some 
short straggling hairs which sprout in old age ; nor have either 
men or women the downy hair which generally appears after 
the age of puberty. In this they are distinguished from all 
people on earth, even from the Tartars and Chinese. As in 
eunuchs, it is the characteristic of their degeneracy." — 
Page 144. 

" Judging by the rage which the Americans have to mutilate 
and disfigure themselves, we should suppose they all were dis- 
contented with the proportions of their limbs and bodies. Not 


a single nation has been discovered in this fourth quarter of 
the globe which has not adopted the custom of artificially 
changing, either the form of the lips, the hollow of the ear, or 
the shape of the head, by forcing it to assume an extraordi- 
nary and ridiculous figure. 

" There are savages whose heads are pyramidal, or conical, 
with the top terminating in a point. Others have flat heads, 
with large foreheads, and the back part flattened. This 
caprice seems to have been the most fashionable, at least, it 
was the most common. Some Canadians had their heads 
perfectly spherical. Although the natural form of the head 
really approaches the circular, these savages who, by being 
thus distorted, acquired the appellation of bowl or bullet- 
head, do not appear less disgusting, for having made the head 
too round, and perverted the original purpose of nature, to 
which nothing can be added, from which nothing can be taken 
away, without some essential error being the result, which is 
destructive to the animal. 

" In fine we have seen, on the banks of the Maragnon, Ame- 
ricans with square, or cubical heads ; that is to say, flattened 
on the face, the top, the temples, and the occiput, which 
appears to be the last stage of human extravagance. 

" It is difficult to conceive how it was possible to compress 
and mould the bones of the skull into so many various forms, 
without most essentially injuring the seat of sense, and the 
organs of reason ; or occasioning either madness or idiotism ; 
since we so often have examples that violent contusions in the 
region of the temples have occasioned lunacy, and deprived the 
sufferers of intellectual capacity. For it is not true, as ancient 
narratives have affirmed, that all Indians with flat, or sugar- 
loaf heads, were really idiots ; had this been the case there 
must have been whole nations in America either foolish or 
frantic, which is impossible, even in supposition." 


" It appears to me remarkable that the Jews should have 
carried with them the marks of their country and race to all 
parts of the world; I mean their short, black, curly hair, and 


brown complexion. — Their quickness of speech, haste and 
abruptness in all their actions, appear to proceed from the 
same causes. I imagine the Jews have more gall than other 
men." — (I add, as characteristics of the national Jewish coun- 
tenance, the pointed chin, pouting lips, and well-defined 
middle line of the mouth.) 


"My observations have been directed" (writes this great 
designer and physiognomist), " not to the countenance of 
nations only, being convinced, from numberless experiments, 
that the general form of the human body, its attitude, and 
manner, the sunken or raised position of the head, between or 
above the shoulders, the firm, the tottering, the hasty, or slow 
walk, may frequently be less deceitful signs of this or that 
character, than the countenance separately considered. I 
believe it possible so accurately to characterize man, from the 
calmest state of rest to the highest gradation of rage, terror 
and pain, that, from the carriage of the body, the turn of the 
head, and gestures, in general, we shall be able to distinguish 
the Hungarian, the Sclavonian, the Tllyrian, the Wallachian, 
and to obtain a full and clear conception of the actual, and, in 
general, the prominent characteristics of this or that nation." 


" If not impossible, it would be very difficult to give you 
my particular rules for delineating various nations and ages, 
with almost mathematical certainty ; especially, if I would add 
all I have had occasion to remark concerning the beauty of 
the antiques. These rules I have obtained by constant obser- 
vations on the skulls of different nations, of which I have a 
large collection, and by a long study of the antiques. 

" It has cost me much time accurately to draw any head in 
profile. I have dissected the skulls of people lately dead, that 
I might be able to define the lines of the countenance, and the 
angle of these lines with the horizon. I was thus led to the 


discovery of the maximum and minimum of this angle. I 
began with the monkey, proceeded to the negro, and the 
European, till I ascended to the countenances of antiquity, 
and examined a Medusa, an Apollo, or a Venus de Medicis. 
This concerns only the profile. There is another difference in 
the breadth of the cheeks, which I have found to be largest 
among the Calmucs, and much smaller among the Asiatic 
negroes. The Chinese, and inhabitants of the Molucca, and 
other Asiatic islands, appear to me to have broad cheeks, with 
projecting jaw-bones ; the under jaw-bone, in particular, very 
high, and almost forming a right angle, which, among Euro- 
peans, is very obtuse, and still more so among the African 

" I have not yet procured a real skull of an American, there- 
fore, can say nothing on the subject. 

" Almost to my shame must I confess that I have not j*et 
been able accurately to draw the countenance of a Jew, 
although they are so very remarkable in their features ; nor 
have I yet obtained precision in delineating the Italian face. 
It is generally true that the upper and under jaw of the Euro- 
peans is less broad than the breadth of the skull, and that 
among the Asiatics they are much broader ; but I have 
not been able to determine the specific differences between 
European nations. 

" I have very frequently, by physiognomonical sensation, 
been able to distinguish the soldiers of different nations ; the 
Scotchman, the Irishman, and the native of England; yet 
have I never been able to delineate the distinguishing traits. 

" The people of our provinces are a mixture of all nations, 
but, in the remote and separated cantons, I find the countenance 
to be more flat, and extraordinarily high from the eyes upward." 


" All tribes of people who dwell in uncultivated countries, 
and, consequently, are pastoral, not assembled in towns, wouid 
never be capable of an equal degree of cultivation with Euro- 


peans, though they did not live thus scattered. Were the 
shackles of slavery shaken off, still their minds would eternally 
slumber ; therefore whatever remarks we can make upon them 
must be pathognomonical " — (I suspect physiognomonical) ; — 
" and we must confine ourselves to their receptive powers of 
mind, not being able to say much of their expression. 

" People who do not bear our badges of servitude are not 
so miserable as we suppose. Their species of slavery is very 
supportable, in their mode of existence. They are incom- 
parably better fed than German peasants, and have neither to 
contend with the cares of providing, nor the excesses of labour. 
As their race of horses exceeds ours in strength and size, so 
do their jaeople those among us who have, or suppose they 
have, property. Their wants are few, and their understand- 
ing sufficient to supply those wants they have. The Russian 
or Polish peasant is, of necessity, carpenter, tailor, shoemaker, 
mason, thatcher, &c. and when we examine their performances, 
we may easily judge of their capacities. Hence their aptitude 
at mechanical and handicraft professions, as soon as they are 
taught their principles. Invention of what is great they have 
no pretensions to ; their mind, like a machine, is at rest when 
the necessity that set it in motion ceases. 

" Of the numerous nations subject to the Russian sceptre, 
I shall omit those of the extensive Siberian districts, and con 
fine myself to the Russians, properly so called, whose coun- 
tries are bounded by Finland, Esthonia, Livonia, and the 
borders of Asia. These are distinguishable by prodigious 
strength, firm sinews, broad breast and colossal neck ; which, 
in a whole ship's crew, will be the same ; resembling the Far- 
nesian Hercules ; by their black, broad, thick, rough, strong 
hair, head and beard ; their sunken eyes, black as pitch ; their 
short forehead, compressed to the nose, with an arch. Wa 
often find thin lips, though, in general, they are pouting, wide, 
and thick. The women have high cheek bones, hollow tem- 
ples, snub noses, and retreating arched foreheads, with very 
few traits of ideal beauty. • At a certain period of life, both 
sexes frequently'become corpulent. Their power of propaga- 
tion exceeds belief. 


" In the centre dwell the Ukranians, of whom most of the 
regiments of Cossacks are formed. They are distinguished 
among the Russians almost as the Jews are among Europeans. 
They generally have aquiline noses, are nobly formed ; amo- 
rous, yielding, crafty, and without strong passions ; probably, 
because, for some thousands of years, they have followed 
agriculture, have lived in society, had a form of government, 
and inhabit a most fruitful country, in a moderate climate, 
resembling that of France. Among all these people the greatest 
activity and strength of the body are united. They are as 
different from the German boor as quicksilver is from lead, and 
how our ancestors could suppose them to be stupid, is incon- 

" Thus too the Turks resemble the Russians. They are a 
mixture of the noblest blood of Asia Minor with the more 
material and gross Tartar. The Natolian, of a spiritual nature, 
feeds on meditation ; will for days contemplate a single object, 
seat himself at the chess board, or wrap himself up in the 
mantle of taciturnity. The eye, void of passion, or great en- 
terprise, abounds in all the penetration of benevolent cunning ; 
the mouth is eloquent : the hair of the head and beard, and 
the small neck, declare the flexibility of the man." 

" The Englishman is erect in his gait, and generally stands 
as if a stake were driven through his body. His nerves are 
strong, and he is the best runner. He is distinguished from 
all other men by the roundness and smoothness of the mus- 
cles of his face. If he neither speak nor move, he declares 
the capability and mind he possesses in so superior a degree. 
His silent eye seeks not to please. His hair, coat, and clia- 
racter, alike, are smooth. Not cunning, but on his guard, yet 
perhaps but little colouring is necessary to deceive him, on any 
occasion. Like the bull dog, he does not bark ; but if irritated, 
rages. As he wishes not for more esteem than he merits, sg 
he detests the false pretensions of his neighbours, who would 
arrogate excellence they do not possess. Desirous of private 
happiness, he disregards public opinion, and obtains a charac- 


ter of singularity. His imagination, like a sea-coal fire, is not 
the splendour that enlightens a region, but diffuses genial 
warmth. Perseverance in study, and pertinacity, for centu- 
ries, in fixed principles, have raised and maintained the British 
spirit, as well as the British government, trade, manufactures, 
and marine. He has punctuality and probity, not trifling away 
his time to establish false principles, or making a parade with 
a vicious hypothesis." 

" In the temperament of nations, the French class is that 
of the sanguine. Frivolous, benevolent, and ostentatious, the 
Frenchman forgets not his inoffensive parade till old age has 
made him wise. At all times disposed to enjoy life, he is the 
best of companions. He pardons himself much, and therefore 
pardons others if they will but grant that they are foreigners,, 
and he is a Frenchman. His gait is dancing, his speech with- 
out accent, and his ear incurable. His imagination pursues 
the consequences of small things with the rapidity of the 
second-hand of a stop watch, but seldom gives those loud, 
strong, reverberating strokes which proclaim new discoveries 
to the world. Wit is his inheritance. His countenance is 
open, and, at first sight, speaks a thousand pleasant, amiable 
things. Silent he cannot be, either with eye, tongue, or fea- 
ture. His eloquence is often deafening, but his good humour 
casts a veil over all his failings. His form is equally distinct 
from that of other nations, and difficult to describe in words. 
No other man has so little of the firm, or deep traits, or so 
much motion. He is all appearance, all gesture ; therefore, 
the first impression seldom deceives, but declares who and 
what he is. His imagination is incapable of high flights, and 
the sublime in all arts is to him offence. Hence his dislike of 
whatever is antique in art, or literature ; his deafness to true 
music ; his blindness to the higher beauties of painting. His 
last, most marking trait is, that he is astonished at every thing, 
and cannot comprehend how it is possible men should be other 
than they are at Paris." 

" The countenance of the Italian is soul, his speech excla- 


mation, his motion gesticulation. His form is the noblest, 
and his country the true seat of beauty. His short fore- 
head, his strong, marked eye-bones, the fine contour of his 
mouth, give a claim of kindred to the antiques of Greece. 
The ardour of his eyes denotes that the beneficent sun brings 
forth fruit more perfect in Italy than beyond the Alps. 
His imagination is ever in motion, ever sympathizing with 
surrounding objects, and, as in the poem of Ariosto, the whole 
works of creation are reflected, so are they, generally, in 
the national spirit. That power which could bring forth such 
a work, appears to me the general representative of genius. 
It sings all, and from it all things are sung; The sublime 
in arts is the birth-right of the Italian. Modern religion 
and politics may have degraded and falsified his character, 
may have rendered the vulgar faithless and crafty, but the 
superior part of the nation abounds in the noblest and best 
of men." 

" The Dutchman is tranquil, patient, confined, and appears 
to will nothing. His walk and eye are long silent, and an 
hour of his company will scarcely produce a thought. He is 
little troubled by the tide of passions, and he will contemplate, 
unmoved, the parading streamers of all nations sailing before 
his eyes. Quiet and competence are his gods, therefore, those 
arts alone which can procure these blessings, employ his facul- 
ties. His laws, political and commercial, have originated in 
that spirit of security which maintains him in the possession 
of what he has gained. He is tolerant in all that relates to 
opinion, if he be but left peaceably to enjoy his property, and 
to assemble at the meeting-house of his sect. The character 
of the ant is so applicable to the Dutch, that to this literature 
itself conforms in Holland. All poetical powers, exerted either 
in great works or small, are foreign to this nation. They 
endure pleasure from the perusal of, but produce no, poetry. 
I speak of the United Provinces, and not of the Flemings, 
whose jovial character is in the midway between the Italian 
and French. This may afford data for the history of their 


" A high forehead, half open eyes, full nose, hanging cheeks, 
wide open mouth, fleshy lips, broad chin, and large ears, I 
believe to be characteristic of the Dutchman." 

" A German thinks it disgraceful not to know every thing, 
and dreads nothing so much as to be thought a fool. Pro- 
bity often makes him appear a blockhead. Of nothing is he 
so proud as of honest, moral understanding. According to 
modern tactics he is certainly the best soldier, and the teacher 
of all Europe. He is allowed to be the greatest inventor, and 
often with so little ostentation, that foreigners have, for cen- 
turies, unknown to him, robbed him of his glory. From the 
age of Tacitus, a willing dependant, he has exerted faculties 
for the service of his master, which others only exert for free- 
dom and property. His countenance does not, like a painting 
in fresco, speak at a distance, but he must be sought and 
studied. His good nature and benevolence are often concealed 
under apparent moroseness, and a third person is always 
necessary to draw off the veil and show him as he is. He is 
difficult to move, and, without the aid of old wine, is silent. 
He does not suspect his own worth, and wonders when it is 
discovered by others. Fidelity, industry, and secresy, are his 
three principal characteristics. Not having wit, he indulges 
his sensibility. Moral good is the colouring which he requires 
in all arts. Hence his great indulgence towards abortions 
which wear this mask. His epic and lyric spirit walks in un- 
frequented paths. Hence again his great, and frequently 
gigantic sense, which seldom permits him the clear aspect of 
enthusiasm, or the glow of splendour. Moderate in the use of 
this world's delights, he has little propensity to sensuality and 
extravagance, but he is, therefore, formal, and less social than 
his neighbour." 


Each country, province, town, and village, has its peculiar 
physiognomy and character ; and a character which mani- 
festly is conformable to this physiognomy. Let, for example. 


a number of countenances be taken from any village, or any 
town, and compared ; it will be as easy to perceive what they 
have in common, as it will be difficult to define in words. The 
discovery of general character, in a society of people, is never 
difficult ; but to describe its peculiarity with such accuracy 
that it might afterwards be drawn, always is. The most gene 
ral may, probably, be found by examining the whole, as far as 
it is not too great and various, and by comparison with neigh- 
bouring, and remote wholes. The particular, or characteristic, 
on the contrary, to be clearly communicated and taught, 
must, in my opinion, as I have before remarked, be obtained 
by considering individuals, and the comparison of individuals. 
However great the distance between the most beautiful and 
most deformed of a town or village, there will always be some- 
thing mutually local and common between the beautiful and 
deformed : but it requires the most accurate perception, and 
the greatest practice, to discover what it is that is thus com- 
mon. The form of the countenance, and the character of the 
profile, particularly of the mouth, will, in my opinion, by com- 
parison, attain this purpose. 


The natural history of national physiognomy is possible, and 
important, to the philosopher, and the man, as well of business 
as of contemplation. It is one of the most profound, inde- 
structible, and eternal principles of physiognomy. I repeat it, 
to deny national physiognomy and national character is equal 
to denying the light of the sun at noon day. I will grant that 
integrity and wisdom may reside in every climate, and under 
every national form, and that God respects not persons or 
climates, but that all people, of all countries, when virtuous, 
are to him acceptable. I am of the opinion of Juvenal, 

Summos posse viros et magna exempla daturos 
Vervecum in patria, crassoque sub aere, nasci. 

Yet is it undeniably true that the all-freedom of God, under 
every climate, by the present, the active, and the thus or thus 
defined secondary causes, generally forms such characters, as 


when compared to other characters, born in other climates, 
are so distinct that they cannot be confounded ; and that it 
must be an extremely interesting spectacle to him, and to all 
rational beings, to view, at a single glance, the physiognomo- 
nical varieties, connexions, and combinations, of so many mil- 
lions of people. This infinite variety, which yet conspiring 
forms one whole, must and shall be eternal. How much 
soever all may be ennobled, changed, and deified, each must 
be ennobled according to its primitive nature. Species shall 
no more be confounded than individuals. Therefore, as an 
individual's excellence of mind and physiognomy are the 
favour and tho gift of God, so are they equally the favour and 
the gift of God when bestowed upon nations, who, by residing 
hi a more fortunate climate, have for that reason, greater ex- 
cellence of understanding and of form. Yet ought not the 
lowest of the human race to be discouraged. They are the 
children of one common father, and their brother is the first 
born of the brethren. He shall collect to himself from all 
nations, tongues and people, those who shall inherit his 


Fit, quoque, ut interdum similes existere avorum 
Possint, et referant proavorum ssepc figuras ; 
Propterea, quia multimodis primordia multis 
Mixta suo celant in corpore saepe parentes, 
Qua? patribus patres tradunt a stirpe profecta ; 
Inde Venus varias producit scite figuras, 
Majorumque refert vultus, vocesque, comasque ; 
Quandoquidcm nihilo magis hsec de semine certo 
Fiunt quam facies et corpora membraque nobis. 

general remarks. 

The resemblance between parents and children is very com- 
monly remarkable. 

Family physiognomy is as undeniable as national. To 
doubt this is to doubt what is self-evident ; to wish to inter- 
pret it is to wish to explore the inexplicable secret of exist- 


ence. Striking and frequent as the resemblance between 
parents and children is, yet have the relations between the 
characters and countenances of families never been inquired 
into. No one has, to my knowledge, made any regular obser- 
vations on this subject. I must also confess that I have, 
myself, made but few, with that circumstantial attention 
which is necessary. All I have to remark is what follows. 

When the father is considerably stupid, and the mother 
exceedingly the reverse, then will most of the children be 
endued with extraordinary understanding. 

When the father is good, truly good, the children will, in 
general, be well disposed ; at least most of them will be 

The son appears most to inherit moral goodness from the 
good father, and intelligence from the intelligent mother ; the 
daughter to partake of the character of the mother. 

If we wish to find the most certain marks of resemblance 
between parents and children, they should be observed within 
an hour or two after birth. We may then perceive whom the 
child most resembles in its formation. The most essential 
resemblance is usually afterwards lost, and does not, perhaps, 
appear for many years ; or not till after death. 

When children, as they increase in years, visibly increase 
in the resemblance of form and features to their parents, we 
cannot doubt but that there is an increasing resemblance of 
character. How much soever the characters of children may 
appear unlike that of the parents they resemble, yet will this 
dissimilarity be found to originate in external circumstances, 
and the variety of these must be great indeed if the difference 
of character be not, at length, overpowered by the resem- 
blance of form. 

From the strongly-delineated father, I believe, the firmness 
and the kind (1 do not say the form, but the kind) of bones 
and muscles are derived ; and from the strongly-delineated 
mother, the kind of nerves and form of the countenance; if 
the imagination and love of the mother have not fixed them- 
selves too deeply in the countenance of the man. 

Certain forms of countenance, in children, appear for a time 


undecided whether they shall take the resemblance of the 
father or of the mother ; in which case I will grant that ex- 
ternal circumstances, preponderating love for the father 
or mother, or a greater degree of intercourse with either, 
may influence the form. 

We sometimes see children who long retain a remarkable 
resemblance to the father, but, at length, change and become 
more like the mother. 

I undertake not to expound the least of the difficulties that 
occur on this subject, but the most modest philosophy may be 
permitted to compare uncommon cases with those which are 
known, even though they too should be inexplicable, and this 
I believe is all that philosophy can and ought to do. 

We know that all longing, or mother-marks, and whatever 
may be considered as of the same nature, which is much, do 
not proceed from the father, but from the imagination of the 
mother. We also know that children most resemble the father 
only when the mother has a very lively imagination, and love 
for, or fear of, the husband ; therefore, as has been before ob- 
served, it appears that the matter and quantum of the power, 
and of the life, proceed from the father ; and from the im- 
agination of the mother, sensibility, the kind of nerves, the 
form, and the appearance. 

If, therefore, in a certain decisive moment, the imagination 
of the mother should suddenly pass from the image of her hus- 
band to her own image, it might, perhaps, occasion a resem- 
blance of the child, first to the father, and, afterwards, to the 

There are certain forms and features of countenance which 
are long propagated, and others which as suddenly disappear. 
The beautiful and the deformed (I do not say forms of coun- 
tenance, but what is generally supposed to be beauty and 
deformity) are not the most easily propagated ; neither are 
the middling and insignificant ; but the great and the minute 
are easily inherited, and of long duration. 

Parents with small noses may have children with the largest 
and strongest defined ; but the father or mother seldom, on 
the contrary, have a very strong, that is to say large-boned 


nose which is not communicated, at least, to one of their chil- 
dren ; and which does not remain in the family, especially 
when it is in the female line. It may seem to have been lost 
for many years, but soon or late, will again make its appear- 
ance, and its resemblance to the original will be particularly 
visible, a day or two after death. 

If the eyes of the mother have any extraordinary vivacity, 
there is almost a certainty that these eyes will become here- 
ditary ; for the imagination of the mother is delighted with 
nothing so much as with the beauty of her own eyes. Physi- 
ognomonical sensation has been, hitherto, much more generally 
directed to the eyes than to the nose and form of the face ; 
but, if women should once be induced to examine the nose, and 
form of the face, as assiduously as they have done their eyes, 
it is to be expected that the former will be no less strikingly 
hereditary than the latter. 

Short and well-arched foreheads are easy of inheritance^ 
but not of long duration ; and here the proverb is applicable, 
" Quod cito fit cito perit." (Soon got soon gone.) 

It. is equally certain and inexplicable, that some remarkable 
physiognomies, of the most fruitful persons, have been wholly 
lost to their posterity ; and it is as certain and inexplicable 
that others are never lost. 

Nor is it less remarkable that certain strong countenances, 
of the father or mother, disappear in the children and perfectly 
revive in the grand-children. 

As a proof of the powers of the imagination of the mother, 
we sometimes see that a woman shall have children by her 
second husband which shall resemble the first, at least in the 
general appearance. The Italians, however, are manifestly 
too extravagant when they suppose children, that strongly re- 
semble their father, are base born. They say that the mother, 
during the commission of a crime so shameful, wholly employs 
her imagination concerning the possibility of surprise by, and 
the image of, her husband. But, were this fear so to act, the 
form of the children must not only have the very image of the 
father, but also his appearance of rage and revenge, without 
which the adulterous wife could not imagine the being ?ur- 



prised by, or image of, her husband. It is this appearance, 
this rage, that she fears, and not the man. 

Natural children generally resemble one of their parents 
more than the legitimate. 

The more there is of individual love, of pure, faithful, mild, 
affection ; the more this love is reciprocal, and unconstrained, 
between the father and mother, which reciprocal love and 
affection implies a certain degree of imagination, and the ca- 
pacity of receiving impressions, the more will the countenances 
of the children appear to be composed of the features of the 

The sanguine, of all the temperaments, is the most easily in- 
herited, and with it volatility; and, being once introduced,, 
much industry and suffering will be necessary to exterminate 
this volatility. 

The natural timidity of the mother may easily communicate 
the melancholy temperament of the father. Be it understood 
that this is easy if, in the decisive moment, the mother be sud- 
denly seized by some predominant fear ; and that it is less 
communicable when the fear is less hasty, and more reflective. 
Thus we find those mothers who, during the whole time of 
their pregnancy, are most in dread of producing monstrous, or 
marked, children, because they remember to have seen objects 
that excited abhorrence, generally have the best formed, and 
freest from marks ; for the fear, though real, was the fear of 
reflection, and not the sudden effect of an object exciting ab- 
horrence, rising instantaneously to sight. 

When both parents have given a deep root to the choleric 
temperament, in a family, it may probably be some centuries 
before it be again moderated. Phlegm is not so easily inhe- 
rited, even though both father and mother should be phleg- 
matic, for there are certain moments of life when the phleg- 
matic acts with its whole powers, although it acts thus but 
rarely, and these moments may, and must, have their effects ; 
but nothing appears more easy of inheritance than activity 
and industry, when these have their origin in organization, and 
the necessity of producing alteration. It will be long before an 
industrious couple, to whom not only a livelihood but business 



is, in itself, necessary, shall not have a single descendant with 
the like quality of industry, as such mothers are generally 



Buffon's theory, or hypothesis, of the cause of the human 
form, is well known, which Haller has thus abridged and more 
clearly explained. 

" Both sexes have their semen, in which are active particles 
.of a certain form. From the union of these the fruit of the 
womb arises. 

" These particles contain the resemblance of all the parts 
of the father or mother. They are, by nature, separated from 
the rude and unformed particles of the human juices, and are 
impressed with the form of all the parts of the body of the father 
or mother. Hence arises the resemblance of children to their 
parents. This will account for the mixture of the features of 
father and mother in the children ; for spots in animals when 
the male and female are of different colours ; for the Mulatto 
produced by a Negro and a White, and for many other phe- 
nomena, difficult to be resolved. 

" It may be asked how these particles can assume the inter- 
nal structure of the body of the father, since they can, pro- 
perly, be only the images of the hollow vessels. To which it is 
answered, that we know not all the powers of nature, and that 
she may have preserved to herself, though she has concealed it 
from her scholar, man, the art of making, internally, models 
and impressions, which shall express the whole solidity of the 

- Haller, in his Preface to Buffon's Natural History, has, in 
my opinion, irrefragably confuted this system. But he has 
not only forborne to elucidate the resemblance between fathers 
and children, but, while opposing Buffon, has spoken so much 
on the natural, physiological, dissimilarity of the human body, 
that he appears to have denied this resemblance. Buffon's 


hypothesis offended all philosophy ; and, though we cannot 
entirely approve the theory of Bonnet, yet has he very effec- 
tually opposed the incongruities of Buffon, to which- Buffon 
himself could scarcely give any serious faith. But he, as we 
shall soon see, has either avoided the question of resemblance 
between parents and children, or, in order to strengthen his 
own system, has rather sought to palliate, than to answer, 



" Are the germs of one and the same species of organized 
bodies perfectly like each other, or individually distinct ? Are 
they only distinct in the organs which characterize sex, or have 
they a resembling difference to each other, such as we observe 
in individual substances of the same species, of plants, or 
animals ? 

" Answer — If we consider tbe infinite variety to be observed 
in all the products of nature, the latter will appear most pro- 
bable. The differences which are observed in the individuals 
of the same species probably depend more on the primitive 
form of the germs than in the connexion of the sexes." 


" I must own I have not been successful in explaining, by 
the foregoing hypothesis, the resemblance of features found 
between parents and children. But are not these features 
very ambiguous I 

" Do we not suppose that to be the cause which probably is 
not so ? The father is deformed ; the son is deformed after 
the same manner ; and it is therefore concluded deformity is 
inherited. This may be true, but it may be false. The de- 
formity of each may arise from very different causes, and these 
causes may be infinitely varied. • 

" It is less difficult to explain hereditary diseases. We can 

* Tom. I. chap. v. § 65, 66. 


easily conceive that defective juices may produce defective 
germs ; and, when the same parts of the body are affected by 
disease in father or mother, and in child, this arises from the 
similar conformation of the parts, by which they are subjected 
to like inconveniences. Besides, the misshapen body often 
originates in disease being hereditary, which much diminishes 
the first difficulty. For, since the juices conducted to those 
parts are of a bad quality, the parts must be more or less in- 
formed, according as they are more or less capable of being 
affected by these juices.'" 


Bonnet cannot find the origin of family likeness in his system. 
But let us take this his system in the part where he finds the 
origin of hereditary disease. Shall the defective juices of 
father or mother very much alter the germ, and produce, in 
the very parts where the, father or mother is injured, impor- 
tant changes of bad formation, more or less, according to the 
capability of the germ, and its power of resistance, and shall 
the healthy juices of the parents in no manner affect the germ ? 
Why should not the healthy juices be as active as the un- 
healthy ? Why should they not introduce the same qualities, 
in miniature, which the father and mother have in the gross, 
since the father and mother assimilate the nutriment they 
receive to their own nature, and since the seminal juices are 
the spiritual extract of all their juices and powers, as we have 
just reason to conclude, from the most continued and accurate 
observations ? Why should they not as naturally, and as 
powerfully, act upon the germ, to produce all possible resem- 
blance ; but which resemblance is infinitely varied, by dif- 
ferently changeable and changed circumstances, so that the 
germ continually preserves sufficient of its own original nature 
and properties, yet is always very distinct from the parents, and 
sometimes even seems to have derived very little from them ; 
which may happen from a thousand accidental causes or changes? 
Hence, family resemblance and dissimilarity being summarily 
considered, we shall find that nature, wholly employed to pro- 
pagate, appears to be entirely directed to produce an equili- 


brlum between the individual power of the germ, in its first 
formation, and the resembling power of the parents ; that the 
originality of the first form of the germ may not wholly disap- 
pear before the too great power of resemblance to the parents, 
but that they may mutually concur, and both be subject to 
numberless circumstances, which may increase, or diminish, 
their respective powers, in order that the riches of variety, 
and the utility of the creature, and its dependance on the 
whole, and the general Creator, may be the greater, and rriore 

From all observations, on the resemblance between parents 
and children, which I have been enabled to make, it appears 
to me evident that neither the theories of Bonnet nor Buffon 
give any systematic explanation of phenomena, the existence 
of which cannot be denied by the sophistry of hypothesis. 
Diminish the difficulties as much as we will, facts will still stare 
us in the face. If the germ exist preformed in the mother, can 
this germ, at that time, have physiognomy ? Can it, at that 
time, resemble the future, promiscuous, first, or second father? 
Is it not perfectly indifferent to either ! Or, if the physiogno- 
monical germ exist in the father, how can it, sometimes, re- 
semble the mother, sometimes the father, often both, and often 
neither I 

To me it appears that something germ-like, or a whole 
capable of receiving the human form, must previously exist 
in the mother ; but which is nothing more than the founda- 
tion of the future fatherly, or motherly, I know not what, and 
is the efficient cause of the future living fruit. This germ-like 
something, which, most especially constituted agreeable to the 
human form, is analogous to the nature and temperature of 
the mother, receives a peculiar individual personal physiog- 
nomy, according to the propensities of the father or mother, 
the disposition of the moment of conception, and, probably, 
of many other future decisive moments. Still much remains 
to the freedom and predisposition of man. He may deprave, 
or improve, the state of the juices ; he may calm, or agitate, 

* Thoughts of a Friend. 

D B 


his mind, may awaken every sensation of love, and, by various 
modes, increase, or relax them. Yet I think that neither the 
nature of the bones, nor that of the muscles and nerves, conse- 
quently the character, depends on the physiognomonical pre- 
formation preceding generation; at least they are far from 
depending on that alone, though I allow the organizable, the 
primitive form, always has a peculiar individuality, which 
is only capable of receiving certain subtile influences, and 
which must reject others. — But of this enough. 


I have remarked, in some children, about an hour after a 
not difficult birth, a striking, though infantine, resemblance, in 
the profile, to the profile of the father. In a few days this 
resemblance had nearly disappeared. The impression of the 
open air, nutriment, and, perhaps, of position, had so far 
altered the outlines that the child seemed entirely changed. 

Two of these children I saw dead, the one about six weeks, 
and the other about four years, old ; and, nearly twelve hours 
after death, I observed the same profile which I had before 
remarked an hour after birth ; with this difference, that the 
profile of the dead child, as is natural, was something more 
tense and fixed than the living. A part of this resemblance, 
however, on the third day, was remarkably gone. 

I have seen one man of fifty, another of seventy years of 
age, who, during life, appeared not to have the least resem- 
blance to their sons, and whose countenances seemed to be of 
a quite different class ; yet, the second day after death, the 
profile of the one had a striking resemblance to the profile of 
his eldest, and that of the other, to the profile of his third son ; 
as much so as the profile of the dead children before cited 
resembled the living profile an hour after birth ; stronger, 
indeed, and, as a painter would say, harder. On the third dav 
here, also, a part of the resemblance disappeared. 

Of the many dead persons I have seen, I have uniformly 


observed that sixteen, eighteen, or twenty-four hours after 
death (according to the disease), they have had a more beau- 
tiful form, better defined, more proportionate, harmonized, 
homogeneous, more noble, more exalted, than they ever had 
during life. 

May there not be, thought I, in all men, an original phy- 
siognomy, subject to be disturbed by the ebb and flow of ac- 
cident, and passion, and is not this restored by the calm of 
death ; like as troubled waters, being again left at rest, become 
clear ? 

Among the dying, I have observed some who have been 
the reverse of noble or great during life, and who, some hours 
before their death, or, perhaps, some moments (one was in a 
delirium), have had an inexpressible ennobling of the counte- 
nance. Every body saw a new man ; colouring, drawing, and 
grace, all was new, all bright, as the morning ; heavenly ; 
beyond expression noble, and exalted ; the most inattentive 
must see, the most insensible feel, the image of God. I saw 
it break forth and shine through the ruins of corruption, was 
obliged to turn aside, in silence, and adore. Yes, glorious 
God ! still art thou there, in the weakest, most fallible men ! 


As the gestures of our friends and intimates often become 
our own, so, in like manner, does their appearance. What- 
ever we love we would assimilate to ourselves, and whatever, 
in the circle of affection, does not change us into itself, that 
we change, as far as may be, into ourselves. 

All things act upon us, and we act upon all things ; but 
nothing has so much influence as what we love ; and among 
all objects of affection nothing acts so forcibly as the counte- 
nance of man. Its conformity to our countenance makes it 
most worthy our affection. How might it act upon, how attract 
our attention, had it not some marks, discoverable or undis- 


coverable, similar to, at least, of the same kind with, the form 
and features of our own countenance ? 

Without, however, wishing farther to penetrate into what is 
impenetrable, or to define what is inscrutable, the fact is in- 
dubitable that countenances attract countenances, and also that 
countenances repel countenances ; that similarity of features, 
between two sympathetic and affectionate men, increases with 
the development, and mutual communication, of their peculiar, 
individual, sensations. The reflection, if I may so say, of the 
person beloved, remains upon the countenance of the affec- 

The resemblance frequently exists only in a single point — In 
the character of mind and countenance. 

A resemblance in the system of the bones presupposes a 
resemblance of the nerves and muscles. 

Dissimilar education may affect the latter so much that the 
point of attraction may be invisible to unphysiognomonical 
eyes. — Suffer the two resembling forms to approach, and they 
will reciprocally attract and repel each other ; remove every 
intervening obstacle, and nature will soon prevail. They will 
recognize each other, and rejoice in the flesh of their flesh and 
the bone of their bone ; with hasty steps will proceed to as- 
similate. Such countenances also, which are very different 
from each other, may communicate, attract, and acquire resem- 
blance : nay, their likeness may become more striking than 
that of the former, if they happen to be more flexible, more 
capable, and to have greater sensibility. 

This resemblance of features, in consequence of mutual 
affection, is ever the result of internal nature and organization, 
therefore, of the character of the persons. It ever has its 
foundation in a preceding, perhaps, imperceptible resemblance, 
which might never have been animated, or suspected, had it 
not been set in motion, by the presence of the sympathetic 

It would be of infinite importance to give the characters ot 
those countenances which most easily receive and communicate 
resemblance. It cannot but be known that there are counte- 
nances which attract all, others that repel all, and a third kind 



which are indifferent. The all-repelling render the ignoble 
countenances, over which they have continued influence, more 
ignoble. The indifferent allows no change. The all-attracting 
either receive, give, or reciprocally give and receive. The first 
change a little, the second more, the third most. " These are 
the souls," says Hemsterhuys the younger, " which happily, or 
unhappily, add the most exquisite discernment to that excessive 
internal elasticity which occasions them to wish and feel im- 
moderately ; that is to say, the souls which are so modified, 
or situated, that their attractive force meets the fewest ob- 
stacles in its progress." 

It would be of the utmost importance to study this influence 
of countenance, this intercourse of mind. I have found the 
progress of resemblance most remarkable, when two persons, 
the one richly communicative, the other apt to receive, have 
lived a considerable time together, without foreign interven- 
tion ; when he who gave had given all, or he who received 
could receive no more, physiognomonical resemblance, if I so 
dare say, had attained its punctum saturationis. It was in- 
capable of farther increase. 

A word here to thee, youth, irritable and easy to be won. 
Oh ! pause, consider, throw not thyself, too hastily, into the 
arms of a friend untried. A gleam of sympathy and resem- 
blance may easily deceive thee. If the man who is thy second 
self have not yet appeared, be not rash, thou shalt find him at 
the appointed hour. Being found, he will attract thee to 
himself, will give and receive whatever is communicable. The 
ardour of his eyes will nurture thine, and the gentleness of his 
voice will temper thy too piercing tones. His love will shine 
in thy countenance, and his image will appear in thee. Thou 
wilt become what he is, and yet remain what thou art. Affec- 
tion will make qualities in him visible to thee which never 
could be seen by an uninterested eye. This capability of re- 
marking, of feeling what there is of divine, in him, is a power 
which will make thy countenance assume his resemblance. 



A word, only, on a subject concerning which volumes might 
be written, for it is a subject I must not leave wholly in silence. 
The little, the nothing, I have to say upon it, can only act as 
an inducement to deeper meditations on a theme so profound. 

Imagination acts upon our own countenance, rendering it in 
some measure resembling the beloved or hated image, which is 
living, present, and fleeting before us, and is within the circle 
of our immediate activity. If a man deeply in love, and sup- 
posing himself alone, were ruminating on his beloved mistress, 
to whom his imagination might lend charms, which, if present, 
he would be unable to discover — Were such a man observed 
by a person of penetration, it is probable that traits of the 
mistress be seen in the countenance of this meditating lover. 
So might, in the cruel features of revenge, the features of the 
enemy be read, whom imagination represents as present. And 
thus is the countenance a picture of the characteristic features 
of all persons exceedingly loved or hated. It is possible 
that an eye less penetrating than that of an angel may read 
the image of the Creator in the countenance of a truly pious 
person. He who languishes after Christ, the more lively, the 
more distinctly, the more sublimely, he represents to himself 
the very presence and image of Christ, the greater resemblance 
will his own countenance take of this image. The image of 
imagination often acts more effectually than the real presence ; 
and whoever has seen him of whom we speak, the great Him, 
though it were but an instantaneous glimpse, Oh ! how inces- 
santly will the imagination reproduce his image in the counte- 

Our imagination also acts upon other countenances. The 
imagination of the mother acts upon the child. Hence men 
long have attempted to influence the imagination for the pro- 
duction of beautiful children. In my opinion, however, it is 
not so much the beauty of surrounding forms, as the interest 
taken concerning forms, in certain moments ; and here, again, 


it is not so much the imagination that acts as the spirit, that 
being only the organ of the spirit. Thus it is true that it is 
the spirit that qaickeneth, the flesh and the image of the flesh, 
merely considered as such, profiteth nothing. A look of love, 
from the sanctuary of the soul, has, certainly, greater forming 
power than hours of deliberate contemplation of the most 
beautiful images. This forming look, if so I may call it, can 
as little be premeditatedly given as any other naturally beau- 
tiful form can be imparted, by a studious contemplation in the 
looking glass. All that creates, and is profoundly active, in 
the inner man, must be internal, and be communicated from 
above ; as I believe it suffers itself not to be occasioned, at 
least, not by forethought, circumspection, or wisdom in the 
agent, to produce such effects. Beautiful forms, or abortions, 
are neither of them the work of art or study, but of inter- 
vening causes, of the quick-guiding providence, the predeter- 
mining God. 

Instead of the senses, endeavour to act upon affection. If 
thou canst but incite love, it will, of itself, seek, and find, the 
powers of creation. But this very love must itself be innate 
before it can be awakened. Perhaps, however, the moment of 
this awakening is not in our power ; and, therefore, to those 
who would, by plan and method, effect that which is in itself 
so extraordinary, and imagine they have had I know not what 
wise and physiological circumspection when they first awaken 
love, I might exclaim in the words of the enraptured singer : 
" I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and 
the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up nor awake my love 
till he please." — Here, behold the forming Genius. — " Behold 
he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the 
hills, like a young hart. 11 — Song of Sol. chap. ii. 7 — 9. 

Moments unforeseen, rapid as the lightning, in my opinion, 
form and deform. Creation, of whatever'kind, is momentane- 
ous : the development, nutriment, change, improving, injuring, 
is the work of time, art, industry, and education. Creative 
power suffers itself not to be studied. Creation cannot be 
meditated. Masks may be moulded, but living essence, within 
and without resembling itself, the image of God, must be 


created, born, " not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of 
man, but of God." 


It is equally true and incomprehensible, that, by the strength 
of imagination, there are marks communicated by mothers to 
children during pregnancy ; that there are images, colours of 
animals, fruit, or other substances, on the body of the child ; 
marks of the hand, on the very parts where the pregnant per- 
son has been suddenly touched ; aversion to things which have 
occasioned disgust in the mother, and a continued scurvy com- 
municated to the child by the unexpected sight of a putrid 
animal. So many marks on the bodies of children, arising not 
from imaginary but real accidents, must oblige us to own there 
is truth in that which is inconceivable. Therefore, the ima- 
gination of the mother acts upon the child. 

From innumerable examples I will cite two. 

A pregnant woman was engaged in a card party, and only 
wanted the ace of spades to win all that was staked, and, as it 
happened, in the change of cards, the so-much-wished-for ace 
was given her. Her joy at this success had such an effect upon 
her imagination, that the child of which she was pregnant, when 
born, had the ace of spades depicted in the apple of the eye, and 
without injury to the organ of sight. 

The following true anecdote, is certainly still more asto- 
nishing : — 

A lady of Rheinthal had, during her pregnancy, a desire to 
see the execution of a man who was sentenced to have his right 
hand cut off before he was beheaded. She saw the hand 
severed from the body, and instantly turned away and went 
home, without waiting to see the death that was to follow. 
This lady bore a daughter, who is still living, who had only one 
hand. The right hand came away with the after-birth. 

Not only physical, moral marks, perhaps, are possible. I 
have heard of a physician who never failed to steal something 


from all the chambers through which he passed, which he 
would afterwards forget, and, in the evening, his wife, who 
searched his pockets, would find keys, snuff-boxes, etui-cases, 
scissors, thimbles, spectacles, buckles, spoons and other trin- 
kets, which she restored to the owners. I have been likewise 
told of a child, who, at two years of age, was adopted, when 
begging at the door of a noble family, received an excellent 
education, and became a most worthy man, except that he 
could not forbear to steal. The mothers of these two extra- 
ordinary thieves must, during pregnancy, have had an extra- 
ordinary desire to pilfer. It will be self-evident that, however 
insufferable such men are in a state of society, they are rather 
unfortunate than wicked. Their actions may be as involuntary, 
as mechanical, and, in the sight of God, probably, as innocent 
as the customary motions of our fingers when we tear bits of 
paper, or do any other indifferent, thoughtless action. The 
moral worth of an action must be estimated by its intention, as 
the political worth must by its consequences. As little injury 
as the ace of spades, if the story be true, did to the countenance 
of the child, as little, probably, did this thievish propensity to 
the heart. Such a person, certainly, had no roguish look, no 
avaricious, downcast, sly, pilfering aspect ; like one who is both 
soul and body a thief. I have not seen any man of such an 
extraordinary character, therefore, cannot judge of his phy- 
siognomy by experience ; yet have we reason, previously, to 
conclude that men so uncommon must bear some marks of 
such deviation of character in their countenance. 

Perhaps, those extraordinary large or small forms, by us 
denominated giants and dwarfs, should be classed among these 
active and passive effects of the imagination. 

Though giants and dwarfs are not, properly, born such, yet 
is it possible, however incomprehensible, that nature may, 
first, at a certain age, suddenly enlarge, or contract, herself. 
"We have examples enough that the imagination appears not 
only to act upon the present, but on absence, distance, and 
futurity. Perhaps, apparitions of the dying and the dead may 
be attributed to this kind of effect. Be it granted that these 


facts, which are so numerous, are true, and including not only 
the apparitions of the dead but of the living, who have ap- 
peared to distant friends, after collecting such anecdotes, and 
adding others on the subject of presage and prediction, many 
philosophical conjectures will thence arise, which may probably 
confirm my following proposition. 

The imagination, incited by the desire and languishing of 
love, or inflamed by passion, may act in distinct places and 

The sick or dying person, for example, sighs after an absent 
friend who knows not of his sickness, nor thinks of him at the 
time. The pining of the imagination penetrates, as I may 
say, walls, and appears in the form of the dying person, or 
gives signs of his presence similar to those which his actual 
presence gives. Is there any real corporeal appearance I No. 
The sick or dying person is languishing in his bed, and has 
never been a moment absent, therefore, there is no actual ap- 
pearance of him whose form has appeared. What then has 
produced this appearance ? What is it that has acted thus at 
a distance upon another's senses, or imagination? — Imagina- 
tion : but imagination through the focus of passion. — How ! — 
It is inexplicable. But who can doubt such facts, who does 
not mean to laugh at all historical facts ? 

May there not be similar moments of mind when the ima- 
gination shall act alike inexplicably on the unborn child ? That 
the inexplicable disgusts I will grant ; I feel it perfectly. But 
is it not the same in the foregoing examples, and in every ex- 
ample of the kind ? Like as cripples first become so, many 
years after birth, which daily experience proves, may not, 
after the same inconceivable manner, the seeds of what is 
gigantic or dwarfish be the effects of the imagination on the 
fruit, which does not make its appearance till years after the 
child is born ? 

Could a woman keep an accurate register of what happened 
in all -the powerful moments of imagination, during her state of 
pregnancy, she then might, probably, be able to foretell the 
chief incidents, philosophical, moral, intellectual, and phy- 
siognomonical, which should happen to her child. Imagination 


actuated by desire, love, or hatred, may, with more than light- 
ning-swiftness, kill or enliven, enlarge, diminish, or impregnate 
the organized foetus, with the germ of enlarging or diminishing 
wisdom or folly, death or life, which shall first be unfolded at 
a certain time, and under certain circumstances. This hitherto 
unexplored, but sometimes decisive and revealed, creative, and 
changing power of the soul, may be in its essence, identically 
the same with what is called faith working miracles, which 
latter may be developed and increased by external causes, 
wherever it exists, but cannot be communicated, where it is 
not. — A closer examination of the foregoing conjectures, which 
I wish not to be held for any thing more than conjectures, may, 
perhaps, lead to the profoundest secrets of physiognomy. Sed 
manum de tabula. 



The following are my own remarks on foreheads. 

The form, height, arching, proportion, obliquity, and position 
of the skull, or bone of the forehead, show the propensity, de- 
gree of power, thought, and sensibility of man. The covering, 
or skin, of the forehead, its position, colour, wrinkles, and ten- 
sion, denote the passions and present state of the mind. — 
The bones give the internal quantity, and their covering the 
application of power. 

The forehead bones remain unaltered, though the skin be 
wrinkled, but this wrinkling varies according to the various 
forms of the bones. A certain degree of flatness produces 
certain wrinkles; a certain arching is attended by certain 
other wrinkles, so that the wrinkles, separeatly considered, 
will give the arching of the forehead, and this, vice versa, will 
give the wrinkles. Certain foreheads can only have perpendi- 
cular, others horizontal, others curved, and others mixed and 
confused wrinkles. Cup-formed (smooth), cornerless fore- 


heads, when they are in motion, commonly have the simplest, 
and least perplexed wrinkles. 

But leaving wrinkles, I hold the peculiar delineation of the 
outline and position of the forehead, which has been left unat- 
tempted by ancient and modern physiognomists, to be the 
most important of all the things presented to physiognomoni- 
cal observation. We may divide foreheads, considered in pro- 
file, in three principal classes, the retreating, the perpendicular, 
and the projecting. Each of these classes has a multitude of 
variations, which may easily again be classed, and the chief of 
which are, 1, rectilinear; 2, half round, half rectilinear, flowing 
into each other ; 3, half round, half rectilinear, interrupted ; 
4, curve lined, simple ; 5, the curve lined double and triple. 
The latter is exemplified in the following 6 instances. 

/ rrr r ■/ 

I shall add some more particular remarks : 

1. The longer the forehead, the more comprehension, ce- 
teris paribus, and less activity. 

2. The more compressed, short, and firm the forehead, the 
more compression, firmness, and less volatility, in the man. 

3. The more curved and cornerless the outline, the more 
tender and flexible the character ; the more rectilinear, the 
more pertinacity and severity. 

5 i r ( c 


4. Perfect perpendicularity, from the hair to the eyebrows, 
want of understanding. 

5. Perfect perpendicularity, gently arched at the top, like 
6, denotes excellent propensities of cold, tranquil, profound, 

6. Projecting like 9, 10, 11, 12, imbecility, immaturity, 
weakness, stupidity. 

7. Retreating, like 1, 2, 3, 4, in general, denotes superio- 
rity of imagination, wit and acuteness. 

8. The round and prominent forehead above, straight lined 
below, and on the whole, perpendicular, partly like 7, shows 
much understanding, life, sensibility, vehemence, and — icy 

9. The oblique, rectilinear, forehead is also very vehement, 
and vigorous. 

10. Arched foreheads, like 5,* appear, properly, to be fe- 
minine. Five denotes perspicuity (I reluctantly apply the 
word thoughtful to women. Those who have the most under- 
standing think little, or not at all. They see and arrange 
images, but trouble themselves little concerning abstract 
signs). Eight is insupportably stupid. Twelve the we plus 
ultra of stupidity, and imbecility. 

11. A happy union of straight and curved lines, with a 
happy position of the forehead, express the most perfect cha- 
racter of wisdom. By happy uni